A quick author's note on VICTOR AND HUGO
CREATIVITY IS MESSY! And if making art and music seems disorganized and chaotic- what if one of the arts disappeared? Imagine how wild the chase would be to get it back!
Grumpy Max is an organ grinder. He is jealous of the magical performances of Maestro, the accordion, and his two singing dogs named Victor and Hugo. Though Maestro's audience can feel the magic of their music, jealous Grumpy-to-the-Max ruins it by making breaking up the act. But when he does, the magic disappears and all music, everywhere, disappears.
The accordion gets stuck in a magic old tire (which the observant reader will see is really the Maestro's hat). But the dogs cannot pull it free. When it rolls away Victor and Hugo have to chase the accordion tire all through Paris. They are willing to endure any hardship to get the accordion back. Finally, down in the lowest, stinkiest, dankest part of the city, the dogs find emotion so deep that they howl the Blues. All of Paris is sad. But the depth of their emotion calls to Maestro. He finds them and saves the day.
When Victor and Hugo arise from the Paris metro, their creativity inspires all the people of Paris- Einstein, Salvador Dali, Charles Mingus, Laurel and Hardy, even Victor Hugo himself- anyone who aspires to be creative. Everyone can now tap into that mystical conduit that some call inspiration.
. The world will always have a Grumpy Max, No matter. Go ahead, throw a salami at us- but true artists will always rise up again.
Remember- it is very much easier to tear down than it is to create.
Please see my page called VIDEOS for a film about painting in Paris!
Here is the complete review of VICTOR AND HUGO from School Library Journal:
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Paris's Seine is the backdrop for a street performer and his talented dogs. Victor is a terrier who does backflips within the bicycle basket. Hugo, a hound, balances on a stack of gaily decorated boxes. The Maestro presides at the accordion, but when the animals and musician sound out their names, the instrument echoes their syllables without being played. A merry crowd gathers, to the dismay of an organ grinder, "Grumpy Max," who throws salami to silence the dogs. This sets off a chain reaction in which the instrument and canines fly over the bridge onto a barge, the accordion wedges into a tire, the tire rolls away, and the animals search the sewers for the runaway instrument. Blake's painterly compositions delight the eye. Each page portrays the action in a different light, from the golden glow and strong shadows of early morning to the scene drenched in blue as Victor and Hugo howl their underground melancholy. The narrative is lively, expressive, and slyly humorous. Establishing the mood during the music's absence, the author writes: "Cars wouldn't start, doors wouldn't open, and people wouldn't eat croissants." In a joyous finale, the trio emerge into an ebullient crowd scene featuring cameos of Louis Armstrong, Salvador Dalí, Marcel Marceau, and…Victor Hugo. Dogs with personality, a ruddy musician exuding the magic of a wizard, and shimmering, dappled oils that build up layers of glorious color—the elements combine, convincing readers that music is a cause for celebration. VERDICT A high-energy, exuberant romp through the City of Light. For lovers of art, music, and action-packed adventure.—Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library