The Hero of Little Street
by Gregory Rogers; illus. by the author
Primary Porter/Roaring Brook 40 pp.
3/12 978-0-59643-729-6 $17.99 g
The same bulb-headed boy who was chased through Elizabethan London in The Boy, the Bear, the Baron, the Bard (rev. 11/04) is time-traveling again, this time to seventeenth-century Delft, an important center of the Dutch art world. As with the earlier wordless book, this one involves a lot of childlike mischief and chasing. When the boy runs into the National Gallery in London to escape some bullies, he encounters Jan van Eyck’s masterpiece The Arnolfini Marriage. The dog in the painting jumps out of the frame, and he and the boy romp through the gallery until they find a piece of sheet music on the floor misplaced by Vermeer’s Lady Seated at a Virginal. Dog and boy enter into her painting to return the music then head out her door onto Vermeer’s The Little Street in Delft. A spirited chase takes them back to the Lady’s house, then back to the National Gallery. Fast-paced action in the sequential art will inspire readers to rush through the story, but there’s a lot that warrants a return trip at a more leisurely pace. The particulars of seventeenth-century Dutch town life, for example, recall some of Anno’s early wordless books in their level of meticulous detail, and astute fans of Rogers’s previous book will find humorous references to the bear, the baron, and the bard. A superb, witty book that will appeal both to squirmy, clueless kids and educated art connoisseurs.