Jenny Shank's Reviews > Art & Max

Art & Max by David Wiesner
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's review
Dec 02, 2010

it was amazing

New West Children's Book Review
Reptiles, Princesses & Paul Bunyan-Sized Women: New Western Picture Books
New picture books set in Montana and the Sonoran Desert, and one by a Colorado author.

By Jenny Shank, 11-22-10

When my daughter and I look for picture books at the bookstore or library, we follow one rule: Does it look funny? We’re not interested in the messagey books. We like the weird ones that make us giggle. You can tell just by looking at the cover of David Wiesner’s Art & Max (Clarion Books, ages 4 to 8, 40 pages, $17.99) that it’s going to be funny, with a tall, dignified horny toad gripping brushes and a palette and standing back-to-back with a messy, bug-eyed shorter lizard against the backdrop of a saguaro-filled desert like they’re about to have a showdown.

They do have a showdown through their artwork, in a delightful story that Wiesner tells mostly through his detailed, engaging illustrations. As the story opens, Arthur, the pretentious horny toad, is working on a portrait. The enthusiastic Max, the smaller lizard, zooms into view and announces, “I can paint too, Arthur!” Arthur tells him, “You, Max? Don’t be ridiculous.” When Max asks Arthur what he should paint, Arthur suggests, “Well…you could paint me.” And Max does, literally.

The book gets funnier with each of Max’s missteps, as Arthur turns all kinds of colors, then leaks them until he’s transparent, then unravels. We giggled a lot over this one, even though it does sneak a message in there: there are no rules or boundaries for creativity. Art & Max would make a great gift for any child who loves to draw and paint.

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