Mister Orange

Mister Orange


Written by Truus Matti
Cover and interior illustrations by Jenni Desmond
Translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson

Winner of the 2014 Mildred L. Batchelder Award

The year: 1943. The place: Manhattan. Linus Muller works at the family grocery store in the east 70s. When his oldest brother, Albie, leaves to fight in World War II, Linus takes over the grocery deliveries. One of his customers is an artist from somewhere in Europe who arranges to have a crate of oranges delivered every other week. Over the course of these deliveries, an intimacy develops between Linus and the man, whom he knows only by the name he gives him, Mister Orange. In the peacefulness of Mister Orange's spare kitchen, they discuss the war, the future, freedom and imagination. Through these conversations, Linus begins to grow up as he wrestles with the realities of war and the place of comic books, superheroes and the imagination in human life.

ISBN: 978-1-59270-123-0
6" (W) x 8.8" (H) • 156 pages • HCJ

Grade Level: 6
Interest Level: 5-up
Lexile Level: 690
Guided Reading Level: X

Add To Cart


Winner of the 2014 Mildred L. Batchelder Award
A USBBY 2014 Outstanding International Book
A Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of 2014 (Outstanding Merit)

★ "...Matti offers a compact middle-grade novel that is involving and informative. Written with clarity and simplicity, this accessible book features deftly drawn characters and a nuanced view of family life on the American home front, as well as insights into Mondrian's personality and paintings. An original." ―STARRED REVIEW, Booklist

"Served well by Watkinson's graceful translation, Matti draws an exceptionally sensitive portrait of introspective Linus and his understanding of what war is and what it does to its victims, as Albie's letters home grow increasingly sober. She avoids the temptation to pump up the story's action with gratuitous violence; the events of the book are low-key enough that the focus stays on Linus. It's a quiet novel, but a deeply touching one." ―Publishers Weekly

"A young boy discovers the power of art during wartime in Matti's second novel. [...] A poignant story of art, growth, and loss." ―Kirkus Reviews

"I would highly recommend this book because it is very well written dealing with real life issued in a positive way -- great for ages 9 and up." ―Region XI Librarian's Review Committee (Ft. Worth, TX)

"This is a top-notch historical novel." ―The Fourth Musketeer Blog

"This gently paced coming-of-age story effectively captures the period details of Linus’ neighborhood during the war, especially the strong pull of a close, hard-working family and the fear they share for Albie’s safety mingled with pride over his service. Linus’ artist friend, who turns out to be Piet Mondrian, rounds out the emotional landscape with his unbridled optimism about a glorious future after the war, a future of light and color and progress that he knows he will never see, but that he hopes his work will help bring about. His talks with Linus elicit the pull of hope that Linus needs to help him sort through his feelings about the war and growing up; both the vagueness and the tenor of his emotions are spot on for Linus’s age and situation. While this isn’t action-packed, it will appeal to artistic, imaginative souls who nurture their own superhero fantasies and believe in the power of art to see them through uncertain times." ―The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books

"...this Dutch import by the author of Departure Time presents a fresh and immediate portrait of the time and place." ―The Horn Book

“This is Linus's coming-of-age story for the most part, but it also brings to light the life of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), who evolved the Neo-Plasticism style and was working on a painting known as Victory Boogie-Woogie during Linus's visits. An afterword offers factual information about the artist. The story is enough of an interest catcher for readers to explore further.” —Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, School Library Journal


Nine Open Arms
Fing's War
The Tiger Who Would Be King