Learn more about CCRLS
Reading recommendations from Novelist
Online learning resources
Cover image for Framed


1st American ed.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : HarperCollins, 2005.
Physical Description:
306 pages ; 22 cm
Dylan and his sisters have some ideas about how to make Snowdonia Oasis Auto Marvel into a more profitable business, but it is not until some strange men arrive in their small town of Manod, Wales with valuable paintings, and their father disappears, that they consider turning to crime.
Reading Level:
Grades 3 up.


Call Number
Cottrell Boyce, F.
J Cottrell Boyce, F.

On Order



A few things to know about Dylan

He is the only boy in his entire town--so forget about playing soccer.

His best friends are two pet chickens.

His family owns the world's only gas station/coffee house--their pies are to die for, but profits are in the hole.

Criminal instincts run in his family--his sister is a mastermind-in-training, and the tax men are after his father for questioning.

And one more small thing about nine-year-old Dylan--the crime of the century has just fallen into his lap.

With the same easy mix of wit, warmth, and wonder that made his debut novel, Millions, an award-winning international bestseller, Frank Cottrell Boyce tells the story of a boy who reminds an entire town of the power of art.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Frank Cottrell Boyce's novel (HarperCollins, 2006) is set in a very small town in Wales that was once a thriving slate producer. Dylan Hughes, 9, is the only boy in Manod and lives with his family who operate a not very profitable gas station and car repair shop. When Dylan puts antifreeze instead of oil in a teacher's car, he is relegated to keeping the petrol log in which he records not only gas sales but everything that happens during the day. The rest of the novel is structured as a journal. One day, vans are spotted going up the mountain and a mysterious encampment is set up at the quarry. The leader of the expedition stops for gas and meets Dylan and his hens, Donatello and Michelangelo (named after Mutant Ninja Turtles). However, the man thinks Dylan must be an art lover and invites him to the quarry where he discovers that the cave is protecting the art collection from London's National Gallery (like it actually did during WWII), which was recently flooded. The power of these masterpieces has such an affect on the townspeople that their lives and the character of the town undergoes a life affirming metamorphosis. The characters are eccentric, humorous, and wonderfully drawn, and the unpredictable plot has numerous twists and turns. The novel is skillfully narrated by Jason Hughes. This production, due to its length and Briticisms, would be most appreciated in an enrichment or gifted and talented program. Teachers can relate the novel to a wealth of art and social studies topics.-Carol Y. Barker, Wheelerville School, Caroga Lake, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

What can be said about a novel that successfully combines threads about Italian Renaissance art and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? As Dylan Hughes, the narrator might put it, "completely mint." The leading export in the small Welsh town of Manod is its people, leaving the Hughes family with a gas station but few cars. Serendipitously, Dylan's mother buys an espresso machine at a car-boot sale at the same time that a large group of out-of-towners arrives. Flooding in London has led the National Gallery to move its valuable holdings to an abandoned quarry just up the mountain from the Hughes' garage. The art chief mistakes Dylan for a precocious art aficionado after hearing the names of Dylan's pet chickens: Donatello and Michelangelo. (Turtles' fans will know the real namesakes.) Meanwhile, Dylan's younger sister, a criminal mastermind-in-the-making, notes, "Art and criminals go together like fish and chips," and plots to right the family's fortunes by nicking Van Gogh's Sunflowers, and replacing it with a paint-by-numbers look-alike. Boyce plants a terrific message about the power of art to inspire and transform, as well as a belly laugh on nearly every page. The quirky Hugheses may be the most winning family of wacky Brits to cross the Atlantic since Hilary McKay's Cassons. Even the minor characters here, such as bossy schoolteacher Ms. Stannard and the dour town butcher, are deftly drawn. This sophomore effort from the author of the witty and wonderful Millions is equally charming and hilarious. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

(Intermediate, Middle School) When all the paintings from London's National Gallery, which has suffered flood damage, are temporarily relocated to Manod, narrator Dylan Hughes's sodden, gray Welsh hometown, it seems to be just what the dying former slate-mining community needs to improve its self-image. The comedy of misperception reigns in Dylan's endearingly ingenuous account of his town and family's struggle for financial and emotional stability. The man overseeing the transfer of the artwork into Manod's abandoned mine mistakenly pegs Dylan for an art lover when he learns that Dylan has pet chickens named Michelangelo and Donatello-in reality an homage to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rather than the Renaissance masters. This false impression gives Dylan's two smart sisters ideas for how to reconfigure the family business, the Snowdonia Oasis Auto Marvel garage, to keep it afloat. Starting a catering service to entice the museum crew with baked goods called Titian Tart and Picasso Pie and planning a hilarious crime scheme to substitute van Gogh's Sunflowers with a paint-by-numbers copy are just two of Team Hughes's colorful projects. Eccentric supporting characters, including a local man who bungles an attempt to rob the Oasis and ends up a devoted worker there, enhance the vivid tableau, in which the town itself becomes perhaps the most vital and lovingly described cast member. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

When the entire contents of the National Gallery are brought to the dead-end town of Manod, Wales, for safekeeping in a hollowed-out slate quarry, life changes forever for the Hughes family. Business at the Snowdonia Oasis Auto Marvel has been drying up as more and more people move out of town, leaving the family without any viable source of income and narrator Dylan without a single boy to play soccer with. When the chief caretaker of the artworks mistakes Dylan's fondness for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for an appreciation of Renaissance artists, a line of communication opens up between Manod and the quarry that gently transforms both, as the response of the citizens of Manod to the art brings life back to the nearly moribund town, and humanity to the Gallery personnel. While the art does its quiet work, however, Dylan's little sister Minnie, a criminal genius in the making, determines that the only way to rescue the Snowdonia Oasis is to pull off a heist, threatening everything. Boyce's signature daffiness plays hilarity and pathos off each other with not one wrong note. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

In a quiet Welsh town, nine-year-old Dylan Hughes helps his family run the struggling Snowdonia Oasis Auto Marvel. Quirky characters populate the community, including Daft Tom, who has a decades-old obsession with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, cartoon characters named for Renaissance artists. One day a convoy of vans passes through town, headed to some abandoned slate quarry mines. Dylan learns that the convoy is transporting paintings taken from the National Gallery because of flooding in London (an incident based on a real art evacuation that took place during World War II). It isn't long before Dylan's own familiarity with the cartoon turtles results in a misunderstanding about his knowledge of art. Like the mutagen that transformed the Turtles, the presence of the paintings brings changes to Dylan's family and to the townsfolk. Even with an attempted painting heist, this is a quieter book than Millions0 (2004), but the readers who take to its message about the importance of art will be charmed. A list of the hidden paintings is appended. Chasing Vermeer0 , by Blue Balliett may be a good follow-up. --Cindy Dobrez Copyright 2006 Booklist