Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Art of the Swap

27420730Asselin, Kristine and Malone, Jen. The Art of the Swap
February 13th 2018 by Simon & Schuster/Aladdin
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Hannah lives in Newport, Rhode Island in The Elms, a fabulous mansion from the Gilded Age. Of course, her father is the caretaker of the 1905 edifice, so she lives in a small apartment, but she does have the opportunity to roam around, and she loves learning about the history of the time, a fact which sometimes gets her into trouble with the docents! She is intrigued by the portrait of Margaret Dunlap-- the original painting by Mary Cassat was stolen the night of the unveiling party and never recovered, although there is a copy hanging in its place. When Hannah is investigating the fram while dusting, she finds the outline of a key on the back... and somehow, she is able to talk to Maggie. Even more thrilling is the fact that the girls swap places! Hannah is sure that this swap must be about the theft of the painting and sets out to investigate, with the help of the main suspect, a kitchen boy named Jonah. Maggie finds it harder to insert herself into Hannah's life, since she doesn't have the background knowledge that Hannah has about the people, and there are so many new technologies and clothes to deal with! The two girls communicate frequently and manage to find out the fate of the original painting, and try to find a way to unveil it in the present day. They try to swap back, but are stopped, and continue to work in the time they inhabit to make things right.
Strengths: This put me in mind of both Tom's Midnight Garden, as well as Konigsberg's The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler AND made me really want to take a tour of the historic houses of Newport! The time travel method was highly acceptable, the mystery solid, and the relationahip between the girls very charming. Hannah's realization that the history she knows so well really did happen, and had some ramifications she hadn't fully understood, is well done and tempers her somewhat bratty personality at the beginning of the book. Maggie's awe at the freedom of modern girls and her embracing that freedom when she returns to her own time were both heartfelt and touching. There are a lot of art mysteries, but this wasn't as much about the art. Modern girls would do well to understand that the freedoms they enjoy have not been around forever, and this book is an excellent way for them to gain more details about women's rights and how they affected every day life.
Weaknesses: This was on the long side. Since Maggie's exploits in the modern day are not as crucial to the plot, I think I would have gone a bit lighter on them.
What I really think: Will definitely purchase, since Malone has a huge fan base in my library. I am impressed with the seamless work of these two authors-- definitely a success story for Google docs!

Ms. Yingling

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