Reviews for Art & Max

Booklist Reviews 2010 October #2
*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. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
Art, a big horned lizard, is intent on finishing his painting when Max, another lizard, barges in. Hoping to divert his irrepressible friend, Art--shortsightedly--provides Max with canvas and paint. Wiesner's visual meditation on the effects of illustrative style is detailed with his signature craft and wit, including an expressive chorus of tiny lizards that point up the fun. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #6
Art, a big horned lizard, is intent on finishing his portrait of a sinuous, formally posed little lizard when Max, another lizard zipping across the saguaro-studded desert, barges in. "I can paint too, Arthur!" he insists. Hoping to divert his irrepressible friend, Art provides him with canvas and paint, shortsightedly allowing that "you could paint me," only to have Max slather paint not on the canvas but all over Art himself. Presently, in an explosion of color, this paint shatters off along with Art's scales, leaving him pleasingly softer edged in character as well as appearance. And that's only the second transformation in this visual meditation on the effects of illustrative style. Next, a blast of air sweeps away the diaphanous residual color, reducing Art to a line drawing -- which Max, clinging to this last vestige of his mentor, inadvertently unravels. After some false starts, however, he's able to reconstruct him, using that same line plus a Jackson Pollock spray of pigment. Not only does Art get a whole new look, but so does his next chosen subject: both Art and his art have been liberated. All this is detailed with Wiesner's signature craft and wit, including an expressive chorus of tiny lizards that point up the fun in this ingenious complement to both Wiesner's own The Three Pigs (rev. 5/01) and Crockett Johnson's Harold and the Purple Crayon (rev. 10/55). joanna rudge long Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 September #2
Two lizards, one an unbridled enthusiast and the other a restrained snoot, stumble along a circuitous creative path together, making art through mishap and engaging all kinds of media along the way. When impetuous Max decides to paint deliberate Art, he impulsively covers him with sloppy splashes of vibrant color. Art explodes, sending all his rainbow scales flying, and he is suddenly, inexplicably, stripped to a pastel image. In successive efforts to help restore him, Max inadvertently reduces Art to washes of watercolor and finally a spare line drawing. With a tug on the tail, Art's figure unravels completely, and Max, the gleeful amateur, must use instinct and imagination to re-create his friend. Children will giggle and marvel at each transformation, ogling some images that bleed beyond page borders and others that appear within crisp panels, hanging in white space like artwork on a gallery wall. Treble Caldecott winner Wiesner delivers a wildly trippy, funny and original interpretation of the artistic process. In this illustrator's world, mind-blowing art comes from accident, if you're brave enough (like Max) to smile and take an awkward leap. (Picture book. 4-10) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 August #4

Three-time Caldecott winner Wiesner (Flotsam) introduces a desert lizard named Art, a self-important portrait painter who undergoes a metamorphosis, inside and out, when his pesky lizard friend, Max, decides he wants to paint, too. "What should I paint?" asks Max; the narcissistic Art says, "Well... you could paint me." Literal-minded Max begins applying blue to Art's knobbly skin. A series of philosophical questions arises: is Art still Art when his painted coat bursts off him mid-tantrum, like a reptilian sun gone nova? Is he still Art when Max douses him with water and the remaining color drains right out of him, rendering him transparent? Is he still Art when his outline collapses into a pile of tangled wire? As Max attempts to reconstruct his friend, an early effort has Art resembling a preschooler's spiky drawing of a monster ("More detail, I think," Art says drily). 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. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 September

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

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