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Art & Max [Hardcover]

David Wiesner
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2010: With eye-popping illustrations, three-time Caldecott medalist David Wiesner takes readers on a stunning journey through the art world. Art & Max is the story of two artists: Art, a collared lizard who is studiously painting a portrait when we first meet him, and Max, who has just picked up paints and brushes and is ready to go. What follows is a magical journey of explosive color--brilliantly highlighted by the desert background--where acrylic paints, watercolor, and line drawings, are deconstructed and re-invented, and Art undergoes a Jackson Pollack-like transformation. Combining minimal text with remarkable images, this is a book to be cherished and poured over, inspiring the artist in all of us.--Seira Wilson



Amazon Exclusive From Author David Wiesner: The Development of Art & Max
(Click on images to enlarge)

Introduction to the photos below:
These images show the development of the opening spread for my latest picture book, Art & Max. Given that a picture book is so brief, the opening pages must set the scene and introduce the characters in a concise and effective way. On the half title and title pages of Art & Max, I show Max racing across the landscape, from left to right. Now, on pages 4 and 5, he enters the scene as the story begins.


This drawing is from an early dummy, before I had fully designed the characters or fully worked out the story. Max was originally a chameleon, but I decided to make him a Collared Lizard instead. I have reversed the position of Arthur and Max to continue the left to right movement from the title page. I am exploring body stances to find an expressive interaction between the two characters. This isn’t it.
Arthur is beginning to look better. Their physical relationship still doesn't feel right. Here the characters are looking good, but I think Max still needs to burst onto the scene somehow. Now Max is off his feet, literally flying into the picture, and the landscape has also come together. The scene, painted, as it appears in the book. The story of Art & Max has begun.


From School Library Journal

K-Gr 4–Underlying this tale of a feisty friendship between two lizards is a thought-provoking exploration of the creative process. Readers first encounter Arthur rendering a formal portrait of a stately reptile, one of several reacting to the unfolding drama in the desert. Frenetic Max dashes into the scene; he also wants to paint, but lacks ideas. Self-assured Art suggests, "Well…you could paint me." Max's literal response yields a more colorful Art, but the master's outrage causes his acrylic armor to shatter. His texture falls in fragments, leaving an undercoating of dusty pastels vulnerable to passing breezes. Each of Max's attempts to solve Art's problems leads to unexpected outcomes, until his mentor is reduced to an inked outline, one that ultimately unravels. Wiesner deftly uses panels and full spreads to take Max from his "aha" moment through the humorous and uncertain moments of reconstructing Art. Differentiated fonts clarify who's speaking the snippets of dialogue. Wielding a vacuum cleaner that soaks up the ruined scales, Max sprays a colorful stream, à la Jackson Pollock, that lands, surprisingly, in a Pointillist manner on the amazed lizard. The conclusion reveals that his fresh look inspires the senior artist with new vision, too. Funny, clever, full of revelations to those who look carefully–this title represents picture-book making at its best. Wiesner's inventive story will generate conversations about media, style, and, of course, "What Is Art?" It will resonate with children who live in a world in which actions are deemed mistakes or marvels, depending on who's judging.Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Wiesner, the recipient of three Caldecott Medals and two Caldecott Honors, offers another fantastical winner that plays with the boundaries of traditional storytelling. In an empty desert, Art, a horned lizard, paints a straightforward portrait. In dashes Max, a smaller, exuberant lizard, who wants to paint, too. “Don’t be ridiculous,” scoffs Art, who begrudgingly relents: “Just don’t get in the way.” Intimidated by his blank canvas, Max asks Art for subject ideas. “You could paint me,” says Art, a suggestion that Max interprets literally as he covers his pompous companion with color. Here, Wiesner’s art hits its full surreal stride. In a furious explosion, Art sends the bright pigment flying. What’s left of his body is a less solid form, still stained with color, which Max removes with a rinse of water, reducing Art to an outline that unravels with Max’s touch. With a tentative “Here goes,” Max reconfigures the tangled heap back into his friend, finally spraying him with color in a pointillist style that inspires both reptilian artists to paint in wild, new ways. Kids may have questions about both the story’s old-fashioned gadgets (a Victrola and a canister vacuum) and the dreamlike action, but they’ll easily connect with the remarkably expressive lizards and with Max’s elemental triumph over a bossy authority figure. Sophisticated and playful, this beautiful mind-stretcher invites viewers to think about art’s fundamentals: line, color, shape, and imaginative freedom. Grades K-3. --Gillian Engberg

Review

"A thought-provoking exploration of the creative process....Funny, clever, full of revelations to those who look carefully—this title represents picture-book making at its best."—School Library Journal, starred review

"Children will giggle and marvel....Triple Caldecott winner Wiesner delivers a wildly trippy, funny and original interpretation of the artistic process."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"This small-scale and surprisingly comedic story takes place against a placid backdrop of pale desert colors, which recedes to keep the focus squarely on the dynamic between the two lizards and the wide range of emotions that Wiesner masterfully evokes."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Sophisticated and playful, this beautiful mind-stretcher invites viewers to think about art's fundamentals: line, color, shape, and imaginative freedom."—Booklist, starred review

"[A] visual meditation on the effects of illustrative style. . . . Detailed with Wiesner's signature craft and wit."—The Horn Book

"Longtime children's book legend David Wiesner takes exciting risks with his newest book about two art-making critters."—The Huffington Post

About the Author

David Wiesner's interest in visual storytelling dates back to high school days when he made silent movies and drew wordless comic books. Born and raised in Bridgewater, New Jersey, he graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Illustration. While a student, he created a painting nine feet long, which he now recognizes as the genesis of Free Fall, his first book of his own authorship, for which he was awarded a Caldecott Honor Medal in 1989. David won his first Caldecott Medal in 1992 for Tuesday, and he has gone on to win twice more: in 2002 for The Three Pigs and in 2007 for Flotsam. He is only the second person in the award’s history to win the Caldecott Medal three times. David and his wife, Kim Kahng, and their two children live near Philadelphia, where he devotes full time to illustration and she pursues her career as a surgeon.

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