The Picture of Morty and Ray

The Picture of Morty and Ray

3.6 3
by Daniel Pinkwater, Jack E. Davis

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A classic horror movie on TV inspires Morty and Ray to paint a picture of themselves for all the wrong reasons. You may be tempted to cry out, "Stop!" But the boys are having too much fun to listen.

Bubbling with questions of pickle juice and Art, Daniel Pinkwater's riotous tale tells of nice boys heading for trouble and friendship put to the test. Visual


A classic horror movie on TV inspires Morty and Ray to paint a picture of themselves for all the wrong reasons. You may be tempted to cry out, "Stop!" But the boys are having too much fun to listen.

Bubbling with questions of pickle juice and Art, Daniel Pinkwater's riotous tale tells of nice boys heading for trouble and friendship put to the test. Visual virtuoso Jack E. Davis pulls out all the stops to give readers a wild ride.

Were this a movie, it would win an Oscar.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Pinkwater (Fat Camp Commandos) gives The Picture of Dorian Gray an idiosyncratic twist as friends Morty and Ray watch a horror movie about "a really evil guy" whose portrait grows ugly as he does mean things to people. Davis's illustrations in black and white of the television movie, and the Rugrats-like heroes in color, are full-out funny. The pages brim with old pizza, kids' tennis shoes and more, plus the pranks Morty and Ray decide to try so that their own joint portrait will change. They stop up toilets with big wads of toilet paper, spit used chewing gum into drinking fountains and call people names ("Lard Head, Bubble Butt, Banana Nose, Four Eyes, Jelly Belly," etc.). They stick their butts out the window of the school bus, they even stuff two pickles in their friend Oscar's pants and pour the juice on him so it appears that he's "wet himself." When Oscar threatens never to speak to them again, they give him their changed portrait, which is just as gross as the build-up promises. While the plot idea delivers the kind of outrageous fun that Beavis and Butthead might have enjoyed as elementary school kids, the book's subversive edge blunts with the book's lame ending (Oscar likes the painting, leading Morty to conclude that "different people like different things" and Ray to propose that they go drink pickle juice). A joke in need of a punch line. Ages 6-10. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
You don't have to know the famous story of The Picture of Dorian Gray to appreciate Pinkwater's contemporary parody. But it adds a certain extra to the humorous, succinctly told tale of two buddies who, inspired by a "neat" movie, decide to paint their own portraits to see if the pictures change when they do "rotten things." As they stomp on lunches, call people names, and do other "cool" things, their portraits do get uglier. But when they show their friend why they have cruelly tricked him, and find that he actually likes it, they decide to give it to him. Even they have become disgusted with how their behavior has made them feel. Davis's cartoon-like colored drawings are overloaded with details, even beyond the text. Note the family cat sitting in its litter box with a pained expression. Most of the images are of the faces of the kids, little vignettes of the victims or deeds and much larger views of the protagonists. The scenes from the movie are in contrasting black and white. The "before" and "after" portraits almost make us believe in the magic. The ending, however, is a bit anti-climactic for a Pinkwater tale. 2003, HarperCollins Publishers, Ages 6 to 10.
— Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-Inspired by watching The Picture of Dorian Gray on TV, Morty and Ray paint a magical picture of their own. Then the boys eagerly misbehave to see if their painting changes. Sure enough, as they clog toilets, push little kids, and stick "our butts out the window" of the school bus, the picture gets uglier. Then they get tired of it, give it to a friend, and go off to drink pickle juice. The two friends are sort of a junior version of Beavis and Butthead. They take true pleasure in gross and disgusting things, which comes through in the pleasingly grotesque, cartoon illustrations; heavily detailed and busy, the art is in full color, with movie scenes in shades of gray. Morty's narration captures the simple idiocy of the two boys: "`Neat!' Ray shouted. `It is a neat movie!' `Did you see what a neat picture?' Neat!'" The irreverent tone of the text is well matched by the art, but there's not much else to this book. The mischief-making antics might draw a laugh or two, but the inane plot has little else to offer. Compared to better-developed troublemakers such as James Marshall's Cut-Ups and George and Harold from Dav Pilkey's "Captain Underpants" series (Scholastic), Morty and Ray are pretty forgettable.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Pinkwater often illustrates his own wacky tales, but here he's found a kindred spirit in Davis. Two lads, inspired by a viewing of The Picture of Dorian Gray, set out to see if they can make their own self-portraits similarly gross and cool by behaving badly. Considering who wrote this, of course they can. Davis's pop-eyed, big-headed, dorky-looking figures resemble the Katzenjammer Kids more than a little, but Morty and Ray go about their toilet-stuffing, lunch-stomping, name-calling rampage with nary a shred of malice, and are honestly puzzled when, after dousing their friend Oscar with pickle juice, he declares that he'll never speak to them again. But Oscar is so dazzled by their now disgusting double portrait that Morty and Ray, bored with the game, give it to him, and all three are last seen heading off arm in arm for a round of pickle juice. There may be a lesson here, but don't bet on it. (Picture book. 7-9)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.32(d)
Age Range:
6 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

Daniel Pinkwater's gloriously funny books include The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, Looking for Bobowicz, and The Artsy Smartsy Club. He is regularly featured on National Public Radio. He lives in upstate New York with his beautiful wife, artist Jill Pinkwater.

Jack E. Davis has illustrated two picture books by Daniel Pinkwater: The Picture of Morty and Ray and Yo-yo Man. Other books he has illustrated include the New York Times bestseller Marsupial Sue by John Lithgow. He is a recipient of the New York Society of Illustrators Gold Medal Award for Humor. He lives and paints goofy pictures in Port Townsend, Washington.

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The Picture of Morty and Ray 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My daughter brought this book home from school captured by its colorful pages. The artwork was fun but as I read the book to her I was disgusted by its plot and language. There is nothing virtuous about this book. It teaches children that they can be disrespectful without consequences and that rude language is acceptable and funny. It is also the first book that I have ever read to my child that uses words that I do not allow in my home. This book deserves a no star rating because it has no literary value.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Pinkwater captures a moment when two kids first discover the joys of an old black-and-white movie on television. They try their hands as artists, with surprising results, and learn a lesson about differences in taste. The text is light, and easy to read, and the illustrations are nothing short of stupendous.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The wizardry of both extraordinary gentlemen is at work here. Jack E. Davis's masterful illustrations perfectly complement Daniel Pinkwater's tale of two kids who discover that art can really imitate life! Go get it!