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Wallace (Boy of the Deeps) traces the beginnings of his own career path in this story of a sculptor who moves into the farm next door and inspires a boy to become an artist, dedicated to Wallace's own first art teacher. When young Tom carries over one of his mother's homemade raspberry pies to welcome Pieter, their new neighbor, the boy is flabbergasted to find a statue of a naked lady in Pieter's field. "She's not naked," the sculptor tells him. "She's nude." And thus begins a friendship between the lonely widower (whose deceased wife served as the model for the statue) and the boy who eventually becomes his pupil ("Pieter had lit a fire inside me. I wanted to be an artist, too"). The clean lines and uncluttered compositions of the watercolors reflect the directness and economy of the prose. Spare vistas and soft, muted colors offer up a nostalgic view of country life and give ample breathing room to the sculptures themselves-an eclectic mix of whimsical, larger-than-life animals and vegetables that sprout up all over Pieter's fields ("There won't be a more awesome crop anywhere in the county this year," says Tom) as well as, of course, the eponymous nude. A heartfelt tribute to the important role of mentors in any artist's life. Ages 5-8.
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