"In this adventure for middle-grade readers, a young girl regains her self-confidence and discovers the power of knowledge when she travels back in time to visit great artists of the past. ...A vividly written work of juvenile fiction that mixes fantasy and suspense with messages of empowerment, history, art,and science." - Kirkus Reviews
When eleven year-old Lucy Nightingale faints during an oral report, she loses her confidence and is afraid to ever speak or even raise her hand in class again. Her teacher assigns a PowerPoint presentation about five artists due the next week. She almost faints again because the only way she can get an A is to talk to the artists themselves. But how, they lived hundreds of years ago?
Her best friend, a genius named Sam has an idea. Why not get help from the Wise Ones, magical beings who help children in trouble? Lucy's Wise One is a funny, befuddled Corgi dog, who teaches her how to fly. Guided by Wilbur's Navigator, they fly back to fifteenth-century Florence and visit the artists as they are working on their most famous paintings. The artists need her help as much as she needs theirs.
Adventures abound as Lucy and Wilbur travel from one artist to the next. The Navigator gets a virus, which it passes on to Wilbur, causing a glitch that plops them in the wrong time and place, and worse, giving Wilbur a fatal virus. They are imprisoned in an ancient Pharaoh's tomb; they are dropped on a frozen mountain peak just as the General Hannibal is leading his elephants across the Alps, and they are chased by a hatchet-wielding ogress.
Lucy works her way out of each predicament, sometimes jumping into the paintings. She faces her last and most dangerous challenge while visiting Vincent van Gogh in the asylum at St. Remy, France. While showing her his painting, Starry Night, Lucy and Wilbur are propelled into the painting and marooned on the hill in the background. If she can't find a way to fix the Navigator, Wilbur will die and she will never see her parents again.
Themes of self-esteem, the power of original thought, and the lengths one goes for friendship are addressed in this coming of age book.