Picasso and the Greatest Show on Earth
A & U Children’s, 2023
384pp., pbk., RRP $A17.99
Frances is in a new house in a new neighbourhood and going to a new school, but no amount of new can make her forget the old, sad secret dragging at her heart. Not the pictures of bacteria that she draws with painstaking precision, not even Picasso, the puppy with the long soft ears and the cute black circle like a target on his bottom. With her father overseas in Pakistan writing about terrible diseases and her mother in mourning, they are both out of reach to Frances and she carries her grief and guilt alone.
But then she meets Kit, the tall, quiet boy with the two-coloured eyes, who seems as alone as she is, as he seeks refuge in the school library to draw each lunch break. . Kit is a real artist. His coloured pencils fill page after page of exercise books. He sees wonder in the rocks and ferns and sky, although Frances soon detects Kit has worries of his own.
But when secrets are spilled, Frances’s life turns grey and drab. Not even Picasso’s wet nose can brighten her up. Frances and Kit will need to face the truth of their pasts to find colour in their world again. After all, don’t the most brilliant sunsets need a cloudy sky?