Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Art & Max

Weisner, David. 2010. ART & MAX. New York: Clarion. ISBN 9780618756636 [Suggested Grade Levels K-4]

The use of color explodes in this delightful tale of two lizards who explore the creative process, one who knows just what he wants to paint while the other is at a loss. Arthur is quietly confident in his artistic expression as he paints a staid portrait. Yet, when Max bursts upon the quiet scene, chaos reigns as Max seeks to create his own painting. Following Arthur’s advice to paint him, Max does just that, literally. When Arthur explodes in a flurry of painted scales, Max vacuums up the mess then sprays the paint back onto Arthur, creating a pointillist lizard that is no longer staid. It is at the end of the story that the young reader realizes that both Max and Arthur have begun experimenting and stepping outside of self-imposed artistic boundaries.

Children will delight in this beautiful work by Weisner, finding a beauty in both the storyline and artwork. The self-imposed difficulties that are often associated with the creative process are laid to rest through the hilarious antics of these two lizards who explore and take delight in their discoveries. The minimal text aptly supports a story told through the detailed panels of events, a story that will appeal to the visual learner in all young readers and adults.

This book lends itself well to the discussion of artistic expression and styles. It would also prove useful as a tool to introduce biographies of famous artists, such as Georges Seurat and Paul Signac who exemplified the pointillist method of painting.

Other books about the exploration of the art process:
Thomson, Bill. CHALK. ISBN 978-0761455264
McDonnell, Patrick. ART. ISBN 978-0316114912

By Christine J. Rayl

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