Can a kid who’s forced to bathe six times a day save a magical world? It’s not his fault his father drowned in a mud puddle just before he was born, turning Mother into a cleaning fanatic. Now eleven-year-old Bartholomew Borax III can’t go to school, play outside, or, worst of all, make art. But he has to. So he sketches in secret.
Then two amazing things happen, he’s allowed to go to school and he meets skateboarding painter, Alexander Devinci. In Bartholomew’s book, Alex is wicked cool because he gets needing to create. But sharing glimpses of a freaky world every time they brush past each other makes for a tentative friendship. Meanwhile, Alex’s strained relationship with his mother takes an ominous turn when she has a heart attack, leading Bartholomew to reach out.
Later, during an art museum field trip, a rainbow inside a painting yanks the boys into another realm. Bartholomew’s living in an antiseptic mansion is nothing in comparison to how weird Artania is with living paintings, sculptures, and sketches. It shares some mystical connection with Earth, but is in grave danger. Twelve pharaohs have been captured and if they are not freed soon, an entire Artanian nation will be destroyed. But only Alex and Bartholomew’s powers can rescue them.
When he sees a struggling Artanian child pulled underground, Bartholomew finally agrees to help, not knowing if it will be enough. With Egyptian gods, goddesses, and warriors at their side, they brave a series of battles, duels, and skateboarding escapes. Bartholomew blunders again and again. Amidst dead and wounded comrades, his guilt grows. As his confidence begins to erode, he must work with Alex but it takes all of his talents and more to battle an evil race of shadowy creatures. For only the power of true creation will finally defeat Sickhert’s army and bring art back to the world.
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