Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Art and Max

Art and Max
written and illustrated by David Wiesner
(Clarion Books) 2010
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.

Arthur and Max are two desert lizards who happen to be artists. Arthur is very accomplished and is painting a portrait of another lizard when young Max, an enthusiastic beginner, interrupts him because he wants to paint as well. Arthur gives in and allows Max some space and supplies as long as he does not get in the way. Max is delighted until he realizes he doesn't know what to paint. Arthur, being a staid portrait artist, suggests that Max paint him. Max takes this literally and thus begins the fun. What follows is colorful mayhem that ends, thanks to Max's unbridled enthusiasm, with Arthur rethinking the meaning of art.

The artwork for this book is unbelievable. It's David Wiesner, so you know the book is going to contain fresh and clever ideas and it does. Arthur is transformed several times in ways unimagined. Primary students will easily connect to Max and his joy for creating art. They are your most enthusiastic students and are not hesitant to give something a go, so they will understand Max's excitement when he creates. Max is kind of like the kid who paints his bedroom wall and wants you to appreciate the artwork and not worry that he just painted a wall. If you want to teach students about how characters change over the course of a story, Arthur would be a great candidate. Art and Max would also be the perfect piece to launch a discussion about the meaning of art and how we can appreciate what other artists create. David Wiesner's books are just flat out fun to read since there is always something different to see with each additional viewing. Look for the classic rock reference in one of the scenes.

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