Art & Max

April 30, 2011

David Wiesner has created an extraordinary book in Art & Max. I love the many ways the simple, yet deep text can be used. I immediately noticed the colors were earth tones: greens, browns, and blues. From the book Bright Beginnings for Boys, boys tend to like the earth tone colors. Plus, the idea of two lizard-type looking creatures working with paint intrigued me. David Wiesner is a superb visual story-teller.

The illustrations are crafted in different sized frames, creating action. The characters are a cast of different types of lizards. Arthur is an excellent artist. The story begins with him painting a portrait of a model client. From the scenes and tone of conversation, Arthur is quite dignified.

Max, a rather hyper, energetic young lizard, appears on the scene. He wants to learn to paint. Through miscommunication, Max literally paints Art and then tries to wipe away his mistake. As he repaints Art, the art turns into a collage of a new medium. You will chuckle through the intricate recreations.

I find the text is upbeat and cheery, yet it makes me linger and ponder. I have read the text 3 times and continue to see how the words are interwoven. The title for example is Art & Max. Since Max calls Arthur, Art, I assumed the story is about two friends. Then I think it’s possibly about two opposite people learning to collaborate. As I am reading the book again, now I think the title is about how Max has influence on the traditional art Arthur is producing. It’s David Wiesner. He makes you think and go deeper with the meaning behind the story.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Art & Max:

  • Literal vs. Inferred – “You could paint me.”
  • Action in frames
  • Compare/Contrast characters
  • Comma with clauses – simple text but used lots; excellent for introduction prior to long paragraphs
  • Vocabulary – preposterous