Vincent and his cousin Georgia travel through the Corridor and art masterpieces to rescue Vincent’s little sister while trying to undo the villainous efforts of the Deconstructionsts. An art adventure woven with truth and beauty.
Beneath the Swirling Sky by Carolyn Leiloglou, illustrated by Vivienne To. Waterbrook, 2023. 320 pages.
Reading Level: Middle Grades, Ages 8-12
Recommended For: Ages 8-12.
Although Vincent would rather spend his vacation relaxing at the beach or playing video games with his friends, his parents leave him and his little sister Lili with an uncle and second cousin they’ve never met. Uncle Leo is an art conservationist, so his house is filled with paintings…and family secrets. What is traveling? Why shouldn’t he touch any art (as if he would want to; he’s sick of being expected to practice art). Why aren’t his parents comfortable with his cousin Georgia being around?
It doesn’t take long for Vincent to accidentally discover the Corridor, a means of traveling “between” works of art. Imagine a video game in which the portals take you inside the scenes of masterpieces or museums, and you’ll get the idea. That could be fun, unless your little sister disappears in one of them and you have to find her and bring her home while chasing a group of villains who distort the art. Why would they do such a thing? And what are these mysterious Gifts his family seems to have that allow them to restore paintings that have been tampered with?
“Art expresses beauty and truth,” Georgia said. “It’s a gift. It’s meant to be experienced and interacted with, not used. That’s what’s so gross about what the Distortionists do. They use art instead of making it or even enjoying it. They turn art into propaganda.”
Beneath the Swirling Sky
“Beneath the Swirling Sky adds to the literary canon that blends art and mystery, such as From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Chasing Vermeer. It’s a lively adventure with redemptive themes that will inspire readers to discover works of art and learn more about the stories behind them. Leiloglou’s love for Jesus, art, truth and beauty are evident throughout the story, and Vincent’s grows into a character who shows real concern for his family and whose interest in art is reignited. There’s obviously more to come in the series, and I look forward to the next installment.
Sexuality: Georgia and Vincent have to walk through a work of art that contains nudes, but they find a canoe to put over their heads to avoid embarrassment. The situation is handled matter-of-factly and the author’s note offers practical advice for exposure to an artist’s body of work (pun intended) that may or may not include naked figures.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 (Heading 4; not bold)
Worldview/Moral Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Literary/Artistic Rating: 4 out of 5
Read more about our ratings here.
Related Reading From Redeemed Reader:
A Review: Tree Street Kids series by Amanda Cleary Eastep (another series about a boy and his little sister and their neighborhood adventures)
A Resource: Art and the Picture Book (a roundup of picture books about art and artwork and appreciation)
A Review: Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman (a book for older readers)
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