Rachel Thomson's Reviews > The Vanishing Sculptor

The Vanishing Sculptor by Donita K. Paul
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Sep 23, 09

Read in September, 2009

Tipper’s heart skipped a beat . . . “I have a feeling,” she said, “that we are going to have a glorious quest. This day is the beginning of a great adventure.”

So declares Tipper Schope, who gladly gives up the responsibility of caring for her family’s estate when her disappearing father reappears after fifteen years — well, mostly. He keeps flickering in and out, and his crotchety foreign companions declare a quest necessary: a search for three missing statues, sold off by Tipper to provide money for essentials, that must be joined to each other before Tipper’s father can stop coming apart and reassembling on a floorboard. Despite the heavy stakes — not only the life of Tipper’s father, but possibly the fate of the world, rests on the quest’s success — the journey begins with optimism, and it largely continues that way.

In The Vanishing Sculptor, billed as “a fantastic journey of discovery for all ages,” Donita K. Paul has created a lighthearted story in which not even tragedies can be too tragic. The world in which Tipper lives is simplistic (the villains look like villains; beautiful people always turn out to be good, even if they’re annoying at first), but imaginative and joyously visual. Paul’s dragons are delightful, her “grand birds” are endearingly grand, and the ramblings of confused or otherwise disconnected characters like Lady Peg and Wizard Fenworth are a constant source of locutionary entertainment. Thrown into it all is a missionary story, as Tipper’s father tries to share his newfound faith in Wulder with his skeptical daughter and their closest friend, the grand parrot Sir Beccaroon.

In short, The Vanishing Sculptor is a good tonic for stressful days and heavy hearts. It reminded me of some of Lloyd Alexander’s more upbeat adventures (think Vesper Holly, not Taran the Pigkeeper), with warm family ties and friendships, fights that aren’t too frightening, and lessons that go down easily. Though at times I found the prose choppy, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish. In a genre which often relies on heavy themes and gathering darkness, that can’t be said about every book. It’s entirely true of this one.
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