The Frame-Up

June 5th 2018

The Frame-Up - Bookcover

A Whirlwind Week for The Frame-Up (and its author!)

 

Holy cow!

The Frame-Up is getting a lot of love these days!

I am thrilled that people are enjoying my love letter to art and are excited about the shenanigans that are occurring at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery once everyone goes home…

 

First up, the book just received a glowing review from The Wall Street Journal:

 

Children’s Books: Meeting the People in the Paintings

A girl in a portrait flits into the frames of her gallerymates.

In 1915, the Irish painter William Orpen captured in oils and chiaroscuro the young daughter of a Canadian industrialist. In her portrait, Mona Dunn gazes out with a calm, serious expression, her hands folded in her lap and her golden hair glinting bright against the darkness that surrounds her. The picture, called simply “Mona Dunn,” is the sort that can evoke a strange, intense mingling of longing and belief in the viewer: that if only there were some way to connect with the person in the painting, each would like and understand the other, and yet, of course, it’s impossible.

Or is it? That’s the tantalizing idea that animates “The Frame-Up” (Greenwillow, 364 pages, $16.99), a mystery-adventure by Wendy McLeod MacKnight that takes place almost entirely in the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, in Fredericton, New Brunswick, where “Mona Dunn” hangs on the wall in real life.

In this delicious tale, 13-year-old Mona is not merely a figment of pigment: Like her gallery-mates Somerset Maugham, Helena Rubinstein and Max Aitken, aka Lord Beaverbrook, she is wide awake and, after hours, can flit from frame to frame to visit friends or sit in the dappled Italian sunlight of John Singer Sargent’s “San Vigilio, Lake Garda.”

Life for the gallery residents is timeless and pleasant, for the most part, though some do chafe under Lord Beaverbrook’s strict rules. (Anyone wishing to go to the basement, for instance, must first enter Salvador Dalí’s “Santiago El Grande” and answer a riddle posed by the horse and rider at its center.)

“Mona Dunn” (c.1915) by William Orpen
“Mona Dunn” (c.1915) by William Orpen PHOTO: BEAVERBROOK ART GALLERY

Everything changes for the people in the paintings one summer, however, with the arrival of a 12-year-old boy with a name taken from art history. The gentle, unhappy son of the gallery director, Sargent Singer catches Mona making a face at a rude young patron. Incredulous and thrilled, he promises to keep her secret, even as the two new friends notice suspicious doings among the adults around them. In the human world, Sargent’s father seems oddly complacent about a shifty art restorer who is making eccentric demands. In the painted world, Beaverbrook is stricter and Maugham more acid-tongued than ever.

Hanging over the whole story, meanwhile, is a cruel reality. “Sargent will leave at the end of the summer,” a painted friend reminds Mona. “He will grow old. You will not. The path you travel guarantees nothing but heartache.”

Ah, but does it? As if answering a riddle from the Dalí painting, Sargent finds a solution to the conundrum that we discover in the final pages of this clever, satisfying story for art-loving readers ages 11-14.

 

How amazing is that?

 

On Sunday, I travelled to Halifax to receive the Atlantic Independent Booksellers’ Emerging Author Award 2018 for It’s a Mystery, Pig Face!

It was such an honour and so much fun to meet all the amazing booksellers in the Atlantic region!

 

 

I’m going to be interviewed on Q, one of CBC’s most popular radio programs!

 

The interview, about The Frame-Up, will air on Monday morning, July 16th, at 10:30 a.m. local time.

The program has an average of one million listeners a week (gulp!) and will also air on Public Radio International in the U.S. to another 500,000 listeners!  Wish me luck!

And if you want to listen live, click here.

A special thank you to all of my wonderful supporters! YOU are what keeps the love for THE FRAME-UP going, and it is SOOOO appreciated! Let me know what you think of the interview!!!

 

Until then – see you next week!

 

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