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What's the story?
A synopsis of this book is rather beside the point, but here goes. Dylan lives with his sisters and parents, and is the only boy in a small, rainy town in Wales. They run a small garage, the Snowdonia Oasis Auto Marvel, on the brink of insolvency. Dylan is obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as is Tom, the man who tried to rob them, and whom they hire instead.
Then a series of seemingly unrelated events starts to change things in their lives and community. A car they bought to fix and sell disappears, and soon after so does their father. A group of men in vans moves into the abandoned quarry on top of the mountain where, it turns out, they are storing art from the National Gallery to protect the pieces from floods in London. And their leader, hearing that Dylan has named his chickens Donatello and Michaelangelo (after the Turtles), thinks Dylan is an art genius. But it's really his younger sister who's a genius, as she shows when she plans a heist of one of the paintings hidden in the quarry.
Is it any good?
FRAMED has much in common with the author's first book, Millions. The story is told by a young boy who is endearingly naive, and who understands less than the reader about what is really going on. His well-meaning but clueless actions change not only his family, but his town.
Normally this might be taken as a criticism, but if it's a formula, it sure is a brilliant one (or as Dylan would say, "it's hectic. Legend, even."). It's that matter-of-fact, daffily sensible, quixotically goodhearted voice that has the reader grinning from start to finish (all right, maybe not from the start -- this story takes a bit too long to get going). Add in a large supporting cast of delightfully eccentric characters, a small town with hidden beauty, the transformational power of art, and a good caper, and you get a most enjoyable book.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about art. Can it really change people's lives? If so, how? Or is it just decoration? What makes something art? Do you agree with Lester? Also, why aren't the kids punished for committing a major crime? Families may be interested in looking at the paintings mentioned in the book, all helpfully listed at the end.