REVIEW: Hugo and Miles in I’ve Painted Everything by Scott Magoon

I’m Jen Robinson, and I blog at Jen Robinson’s Book Page. My blog focuses on promoting a love of books to children and a continued appreciation of children’s books by adults. I’ve had a life-long interest in reading and recommending children’s books, and I wanted to do something constructive with that passion. This year, I’m the middle grade and young adult nonfiction coordinator for the Cybils, and am also a young adult fiction judge.

Today I’d like to share with you a book I reviewed earlier this year that was nominated in this year’s fiction picture books category: Hugo and Miles in I’ve Painted Everything, by Scott Magoon (Amazon link, BookSense link). It’s fun for kids, but also deceptively profound, with plenty of humor for adult readers:

I wanted to read (Hugo and Miles) as soon as I saw the cover in the catalog. Hugo is a blue elephant. The cover photo shows Hugo looking crestfallen, in a paint-spattered smock, standing in front of a picture of an ordinary wall outlet. He looks like someone the reader would want to help. And he does need help. You see, Hugo is in "an elephunk". He’s an artist, a painter, living in a small town. One day he realizes that he has (gasp!) run out of ideas. He’s painted everything.

Fortunately, Hugo’s best friend, Miles, knows just what to do. Miles whisks Hugo off to Paris, where they explore the whole city, visiting the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and the gorgeous parks. At the top of the Eiffel Tower, Hugo has an epiphany, one which gets his creative juices flowing again. He realizes that a change in perspective will keep him from ever running out of ideas again. Words to live by for all of us.

The entire story is filled with humor that, while kid friendly, offers an extra nod to adult readers. For instance, when Hugo considers painting in an impressionist style, Miles says that he’ll be "Van Hugo." If he paints a large painting, clearly it will be "Hugo-mongous." And so on.

You can read the rest of the review here. You can find another review of Hugo and Miles in I’ve Painted Everything at the home of our picture book committee chairs, Jules and Eisha, at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (scroll down slightly to find it).