School Library JournalGr 6-9-The Great Depression and the world of Georgia O'Keeffe are subject and setting in this entry in a new art historical-fiction series. Parker, 15, loses his family during the Texas dust storms of the '30s, so he sets out for greener pastures in California. Months of walking, thirst, and hunger nearly finish him off, but encounters with an employee of the Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, a Native American spirit, and the famous artist offer a glimmer of hope. Kudlinski evokes the extremes of desert life, from desolation to sun-baked beauty, and then depicts the environment's mesmerizing effect on her characters: e.g., Parker's thirst-inspired hallucinations and O'Keeffe's focused awe. Parker ultimately becomes the painter's photographic assistant, a device offering ample opportunity for describing her home, methods, paintings, and personality-all well researched. The author does not shy away from controversial topics, such as the eroticism of O'Keeffe's art noted by critics. There are enough surprises to keep the pages turning, despite the obvious intent of the book. The notion of "spirit" is woven effectively into a variety of contexts. While teens may not find this title on their own, it would certainly breathe life into a number of curricular-content areas.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsThis story mixes fact with fiction: the life and art of Georgia O'Keeffe with the travails of a fictional young Dust Bowl wanderer who stumbles on O'Keeffe's ranch in New Mexico. Fifteen-year-old Parker Ray walked all the way from the Texas Panhandle after drought, dust storms, and death devastated his family and their farm. After a rough and, for the reader, baffling encounter with a sadistic ranch hand in the first few pages, the plot takes off, partly on the strength of Kudlinski's plausible-sounding portrait of O'Keeffe. The irascible artist takes Parker in, gives him a camera, and teaches him a thing or two about art. Unbeknownst to him, she also sends a portfolio of his work to her husband, the famous photographer and gallery owner, Alfred Stieglitz. Parker's career is launched. A strong sense of O'Keeffe's commitment to art, the desert and its native inhabitants, and living life her way shines through. (Fiction. 10 )
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