Mister Orange

( 1 )

Overview

The year: 1943. The place: Manhattan. Linus Muller works at the family grocery store in the east 70s. When his oldest brother, Albie, leaves to fight in World War II, Linus takes over the grocery deliveries. One of his customers is an artist from somewhere in Europe who arranges to have a crate of oranges delivered every other week. Over the course of these deliveries, an intimacy develops between Linus and the man, whom he knows only by the name he gives him, Mister Orange. In the peacefulness of Mister Orange's...

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Overview

The year: 1943. The place: Manhattan. Linus Muller works at the family grocery store in the east 70s. When his oldest brother, Albie, leaves to fight in World War II, Linus takes over the grocery deliveries. One of his customers is an artist from somewhere in Europe who arranges to have a crate of oranges delivered every other week. Over the course of these deliveries, an intimacy develops between Linus and the man, whom he knows only by the name he gives him, Mister Orange. In the peacefulness of Mister Orange's spare kitchen, they discuss the war, the future, freedom and imagination. Through these conversations, Linus begins to grow up as he wrestles with the realities of war and the place of comic books, superheroes and the imagination in human life.

Winner of the 2014 Mildred L. Batchelder Award

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Linus’s older brother Albie has gone off to fight in WWII, and Linus, who lives in Manhattan, has inherited Albie’s grocery delivery route and his love of comic books. On his grocery rounds, Linus meets Mister Orange, a forthright, unconventional artist who serves Linus as a provocative sounding board (he’s modeled on Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, who lived in Manhattan during the war). Yet even open-minded Mister Orange presents Linus with a dilemma: what value does the artist’s imagination have in the midst of a war? “If imagination were as harmless as you think,” Mister Orange tells Linus, “then the Nazis wouldn’t be so scared of it.” Served well by Watkinson’s graceful translation, Matti (Departure Time) draws an exceptionally sensitive portrait of introspective Linus and his understanding of what war is and what it does to its victims, as Albie’s letters home grow increasingly sober. She avoids the temptation to pump up the story’s action with gratuitous violence; the events of the book are low-key enough that the focus stays on Linus. It’s a quiet novel, but a deeply touching one. Ages 11–up. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

Winner of the 2014 Mildred L. Batchelder Award

"Served well be Watkinson's graceful translation, Matti draws an exceptionally sensitive portrait of introspective Linus and his understanding of what war is and what it does to its victims, as Albie's letters home grow increasingly sober. She avoids the temptation to pump up the story's action with gratuitous violence; the events of the book are low-key enough that the focus stays on Linus. It's a quiet novel, but a deeply touching one." -- Publishers Weekly

"...Matti offers a compact middle-grade novel that is involving and informative. Written with clarity and simplicity, this accessible book features deftly drawn characters and a nuanced view of family life on the American home front, as well as insights into Mondrian's personality and paintings. An original." -- STARRED REVIEW, Booklist

"A young boy discovers the power of art during wartime in Matti's second novel. [...] A poignant story of art, growth, and loss." -- Kirkus Reviews

"I would highly recommend this book because it is very well written dealing with real life issued in a positive way -- great for ages 9 and up." -- Region XI Librarian's Review Committee, Ft. Worth, Texas

"This is a top-notch historical novel." -- The Fourth Musketeer Blog

"This gently paced coming-of-age story effectively captures the period details of Linus’ neighborhood during the war, especially the strong pull of a close, hard-working family and the fear they share for Albie’s safety mingled with pride over his service. Linus’ artist friend, who turns out to be Piet Mondrian, rounds out the emotional landscape with his unbridled optimism about a glorious future after the war, a future of light and color and progress that he knows he will never see, but that he hopes his work will help bring about. His talks with Linus elicit the pull of hope that Linus needs to help him sort through his feelings about the war and growing up; both the vagueness and the tenor of his emotions are spot on for Linus’s age and situation. While this isn’t action-packed, it will appeal to artistic, imaginative souls who nurture their own superhero fantasies and believe in the power of art to see them through uncertain times." -- The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books, May, 2013

"...this Dutch import by the author of Departure Time presents a fresh and immediate portrait of the time and place." -- The Horn Book Review

School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—Linus Muller not only inherits his brother's shoes when Albie goes off to fight the Nazis, but he also inherits his job as a delivery boy in the family produce business. The new responsibilities to live up to his father's expectations for customer service and punctual deliveries using a home-built fruit cart in their 1943 New York City neighborhood weigh heavily on him. An eccentric customer with a funny-sounding name suggests Linus calls him Mister Orange, and Linus looks forward to the deliveries and seeing the man's modern-art creations. The bold use of primary colors against a bright white background is an eye-pleasing curiosity he is certain his parents would deem frivolous. At home, he eases worries about Albie and the war by becoming the custodian of Albie's cartoon sketchbooks, and he begins to hold imaginary conversations with one character, Mr. Superspeed, who has promised with all his superhero powers to keep Albie safe. When Mr. Superspeed fails in his duties and Albie gets sick overseas, Mister Orange commiserates with Linus. This is Linus's coming-of-age story for the most part, but it also brings to light the life of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian (1872–1944), who evolved the Neo-Plasticism style and was working on a painting known as Victory Boogie-Woogie during Linus's visits. An afterword offers factual information about the artist. The story is enough of an interest catcher for readers to explore further.—Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
Kirkus Reviews
A young boy discovers the power of art during wartime in Matti's second novel (Departure Time, 2010). It's November 1943 in New York City. When Linus' older brother Albie leaves for the war, household responsibilities, just like the family's well-worn shoes, pass down from sibling to sibling. Linus inherits the job of delivering groceries for the family store, and every other week, he brings a crate of oranges to a man he dubs "Mister Orange." Based on the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, Mister Orange introduces Linus to the "the colors of the future"--yellow, red and blue--that decorate his canvases and his apartment. For Linus, visiting Mister Orange, with whom he discusses art and who teaches him the boogie-woogie, is a welcome distraction from Albie's absence. However, Linus soon wonders if art, whether it's comic books or Mister Orange's paintings, has a purpose when soldiers are dying. Matti ably depicts Linus' loss of innocence as he discovers the brutality of war. However, certain subplots, like a fight between Linus and his best friend, feel too easily resolved. The novel is strongest in the depiction of Linus' unlikely friendship with Mister Orange, who has a childlike spirit but also knows how art can be a way to fight for freedom. Concluding notes on Mondrian add context. A poignant story of art, growth and loss. (further reading, websites, list of museums) (Historical fiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592701230
  • Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books
  • Publication date: 1/29/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 156
  • Sales rank: 342,741
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author


As a child Truus Matti thought that everybody wanted to become a writer just like her. It made her wonder who would read all of the books that were written. Being a practical person, she decided it made more sense to read books than to write them, so she made reading her profession by becoming an editor. That kept her so busy she more or less forgot about wanting to write.

Later on, she decided to go to art school, where she drew and made movies. But then words began to find their way into her visual work until there were only words left. Having given herself a message, Truus decided it was time to write.

Mister Orange is Truus’s second novel. Her first, Departure Time, was a 2011 Batchelder Honor Book and an ALA Notable Book of 2011.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 17, 2014

    This book is quite unusual in the fact that it was originally wr

    This book is quite unusual in the fact that it was originally written in Europe and then it was translated into English and published here. What makes it unusual is that the setting of the book is the US. Usually, with international books, the setting is outside of the US. This was a nice book and gives a different viewpoint of life in NYC during WWII.

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