Micawber

( 8 )

Overview

A squirrel named Micawber loves the paintings he sees through the windows of the nearby art museum. One day he notices an artist copying the old masters, and he decides to do the same -- with surprising results.

In their second collaboration, best-selling author-illustrator team John Lithgow and C. F. Payne introduce children to the world of art through the eyes -- and paint-splattered tail -- of a highly creative squirrel.

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Overview

A squirrel named Micawber loves the paintings he sees through the windows of the nearby art museum. One day he notices an artist copying the old masters, and he decides to do the same -- with surprising results.

In their second collaboration, best-selling author-illustrator team John Lithgow and C. F. Payne introduce children to the world of art through the eyes -- and paint-splattered tail -- of a highly creative squirrel.

Micawber, a squirrel fascinated by art, leaves a museum with an art student and secretly uses her supplies to make his own paintings.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Actor John Lithgow and illustrator C. F. Payne -- the duo behind The Remarkable Farkle McBride -- are back en force with a rollicking tribute to artwork, starring a Central Park squirrel with an aesthetic eye.

Living in New York City's Central Park carousel, Micawber spends time peeking through the windows of "the place he loved best...a palace on Fifth Avenue," the Metropolitan Museum of Art. One day the art enthusiast spots a painter copying Monet's canvas of a haystack at twilight, and he accompanies her home, hiding in her paint case until she's asleep for the night. Climbing out and helping himself to her supplies, the little artist uses his bushy tail to paint a "splashy and lavish and lush" masterwork, afterward hightailing it home with his new creation. Many return trips to the apartment follow, and soon Micawber has built up a fine collection for himself -- perfectly showcased in his carousel home, with a swanky new name to boot.

With flowing rhymes and a story line that are as sublime as a Van Gogh landscape, Lithgow will have readers absorbed in Micawber's cheery artistic adventure. The little squirrel has focus and gumption, and any young, budding artist will be thrilled to use him as inspiration. Payne's illustrations capture Micawber's creative endeavor perfectly, as well, providing vivid details and extra humor throughout. Complete with a CD of Lithgow reading the text and a final fold-out spread, Micawber is a rollicking and uplifting storytime triumph. Matt Warner

Publishers Weekly
According to PW, "The team behind The Remarkable Farkle McBride returns with another high-spirited tale celebrating the arts," this time starring a squirrel who is a lover of the fine art of painting. Ages 4-8. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
The team who created The Remarkable Farkle McBride (S & S, 2000) now puts forth a delightful story of an art aficionado who happens to be a squirrel. The rodent visits the Metropolitan Museum of Art regularly, peering in through the skylight at his favorite works. One day, he slips into the paintbox of a student who'd been copying the great masters and becomes a stowaway on her journey home. All summer he explores the wonder of color and process while she sleeps, his tail serving as a brush, until he has enough art to start his own gallery atop Central Park's carousel. The last scene is a foldout of park friends with paper cups and cheese, attending his opening. The rhymed text sparkles with pleasing sounds like "beguiler" and "alizarin crimson," or intriguing terms such as "peregrination," all the while remaining completely accessible. White pages of narrative are splattered with paint. Lithgow's reading on the CD is brimming with texture and playful pomposity. The mixed-media illustrations depict an utterly fetching protagonist displaying a range of moods and poses. Endpapers reveal "self-portraits," with nods to Rembrandt and Rockwell. Kids will never again look at squirrels in quite the same way; indeed, they will wish to meet Micawber.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Now that Madonna's a mama, it's only a matter of time before she publishes her first children's book. Imagine a touch-and-feel, some pop-ups, and a few lift-the-flaps. Whatever the case, the Material Girl might want to take a lesson from Lithgow, a celebrity who's mastered the medium. Like the actor's previous efforts (The Remarkable Farkle McBride, 2000; Marsupial Sue, 2001), his latest offering is poised for the bestseller list. The story is set in Central Park and stars the titular squirrel, an aspiring artist. Lithgow's jaunty rhymes roll off the tongue as Micawber admires the Met's collection: "Through the windows he'd gaze at Van Dyck and / van Gogh, / Appraise every Rembrandt and Titian. / He would scrutinize Rubens, peruse each Rousseau, / Inspect each Lautrec and Cassat and Mir-. / He would find a new favorite each time he would go, / And nobody charged him admission." He also meets his mentor. When the stranger packs up after a day spent reproducing Monet, Micawber stows away in her supply box. Payne's realistic illustrations are bathed in a mysterious light, then flecked with color, as Micawber sneaks out at night to experiment with the woman's paints. Through art, Micawber's world is transformed. So is his tail, which he uses as a paintbrush. A final gatefold reveals Micawber's creations hanging on the walls of his own "museum" with the requisite gala opening. The collaboration is perfectly charming from start to finish and-take note, Madonna-it comes with a CD of Lithgow reading the text.
From the Publisher
"Lithgow's love of language and wordplay shines throughout his work."
USA TODAY

"Another high-spirited tale celebrating the arts."
Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689833410
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 9/1/2002
  • Edition description: Book and CD
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 410,894
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 11.72 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

John Lithgow

John Lithgow is the New York Times bestselling author of I Got Two Dogs; Mahalia Mouse Goes to College; Marsupial Sue Presents: The Runaway Pancake; I’m A Manatee; Micawber; Marsupial Sue; The Remarkable Farkle McBride; and Carnival of the Animals. An award-winning actor, he has starred on stage, film, and television. He performs concerts across the country and has recorded the CDs Farkle and Friends, Singin’ in the Bathtub, and The Sunny Side of the Street. Visit John at JohnLithgow.com.

C.F. Payne has illustrated more than a dozen picture books, including the Texas Bluebonnet winner Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy and Turkey Bowl, both written by Phil Bildner. He also illustrated the New York Times bestsellers The Remarkable Farkle McBride and Micawber, both by John Lithgow. He teaches at the Columbus College of Design, where he is the chair of the Illustration Department. C.F. Payne lives with his wife and children in Cincinnati, Ohio. Visit him at CFPayne.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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(7)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Good rhyme, great illustrations

    My 3-year-old son loves this story about a squirrel who wants to be an artist. A few of the rhyming words are GRE-level, but it doesn't halt the story as you read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2009

    Loved this book!

    My boys (ages 2 and 4) and I love this book. Much of the vocabulary is well beyond their level, but the illustrations are stunning and captivating, especially for my 2yr old. It's intelligent and endearing and offers educational opportunities on every page. We have read this book a hundred times and never seem to tire of it. God bless you, John Lithgow, and keep up the great writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2008

    Fantastic Vocabulary Development

    This book is clever and children love it. But the best part is the incredible vocabulary it contains. At the end the squirrel's masterpieces are a scream and a good connection to fine art. Highly recommended

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2007

    We're wearing out our copy of Micawber!

    It is so refreshing to read (and read and read) a children's book with such masterful use of vocabulary and poetic rhythm. The illustrations complement the story beautifully. Our children request this book at least once a week at bedtime. It appeals to both our 9-year-old and our 3-year-old...and their parents as well! Please keep writing, Mr. Lithgow!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2007

    Fantastic

    This book is about a squirrel who becomes an artist. Great use of words and pictures.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2005

    Anyone can appreciate the art and joy in this book...

    I enojoyed this book very much, because it was not the typical lighthearted children's book mostly seen on store shelves. It had an exquisite use of terms such as 'Peregrination' and Lithgow described in song the wonderful colors of art. The squirrel Micawber was a delight to look at and read about, every child should read or have their parents read this book to them. Excellent overall.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2002

    The Most Charming Children's Book!

    Wandering in my local Barnes & Noble store, the cover illustration caught my attention. I read the book and think it is wonderful! It's a nice way to introduce children to art, and the pictures are amazing! A must have for anyone who has a child in their life, or a nice gift for a friend who does! As an elementary education major I have purchased this book to add to my collection that I will share with students. :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2002

    AN ARTFUL TALE

    John Lithgow's by-line is all it took to place his third picture book for children on the bestsellers list, but "Micawber" really deserves its audience. The rhyming book and companion CD (read by Lithgow) tell the story of a squirrel art-lover who can't get enough of the famous oils at the museum. When he sees an artist painting copies of masterpieces, it inspires Micawber to do the same. Lithgow's honest enthusiasm is felt throughout, his delight in exposing young children to the beauty of fine art is admirable, and his challenging vocabulary is an unexpected pleasure.

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