Review Blog

Sep 01 2010

Anneli the art hater by Anne Fine

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(Age 8-10) Recommended. A reissue of book first published in 1986, Anneli the art hater still has timeless appeal. Fine is an award winning author who has written a fascinating mystery.
Anneli hates art. She doesn't understand why others in her class are happy to draw and paint, especially her friend Tom who revels in making pictures. She does try to come up with some ideas to raise money for new art equipment and to help the home for children with disabilities. One day she discovers a small door that leads into the house next door belonging to old Mrs Pears. Much to her disgust, she finds a room full of paintings there and Mrs Pears explains that her brother Tom had forged paintings, in the hope of raising money to run away from his father, who didn't want him to paint. However war had intervened and Tom had been killed. Mrs Pears has one of his paintings done before his forgeries started, and Anneli is fascinated by the discrepancies it portrays about the garden. Her investigations lead her to an intriguing mystery.
Fine has a knack of describing wonderful people in her novels. Anneli's independence and warmth and Mrs Pears' love for her brother pervade the story. Both are strong, generous characters who are happy working to better the lives of others.
Young independent readers will be intrigued by the clues in the painting and will want to have a go at solving the riddle. I enjoyed the plot and loved the happy conclusion. Art lovers will enjoy learning about forgery and the idea of examining an painting closely for underlying ideas.
Pat Pledger

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