Mister Orange - Truus Matti (Translator - Laura Watkinson)

"Imagination isn't only about things that don't really exist. Imagination is exactly what you need to make real things." [Mister Orange] gave Linus a big smile. "New things. Things that don't exist and then suddenly do, all because someone sees a possibility and invents them. It all starts with imagination. It's the first step in everything that human beings have ever made." 
He waved his hand around him. "Everything that you see here in the city, inside and outside, everything that you can touch and point to and hold on to, everything that you call 'real'—all of it started in somebody's head, as an idea. Without imagination, none of this would exist."

Mister Orange received the 2014 Batchelder Medal for "the most outstanding children’s book originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States, and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States." The cover art is stunning, the translation is crisp, and the story, though coming in at a brief 151 pages, will not leave readers feeling dissatisfied.

The novel follows young Linus as he experiences life in New York during WWII. When his older brother enlists and eventually ships off overseas, he has to take over his brother's delivery route, taking fruit and vegetables to customers in the surrounding neighbourhood. One day he is asked to take a crate of oranges ten blocks away to a man he nicknames Mister Orange (a character Matti based on artist Piet Mondrian.)

As the war rages on and Linus philosophizes and learns about the role of imagination with the help of Mister Orange and his fantastic art work. But as time goes by, Linus's idealized notions about the war begin to change dramatically:

Albie's words haunted him all the way along his route. Very slowly, he was beginning to realize just how stupid he'd been. The world was at war, and he was worried about playing tricks with spiders. Something terrible had happened... and all he'd been able to think about was himself. He didn't have a clue!
Full of energy, art, sadness, tragedy, imagination, and dancing, Matti's voice is beautifully translated by the talented Laura Watkinson for English audiences. If you want a splash of colour in your life, give this book a chance!

Highly Recommended

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