Art & Max

by David Wiesner (Author)

Art & Max
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Max and Arthur are friends who share an interest in painting. Arthur is an accomplished painter; Max is a beginner. Max's first attempt at using a paintbrush sends the two friends on a whirlwind trip through various artistic media, which turn out to have unexpected pitfalls. Although Max is inexperienced, he's courageous--and a quick learner. His energy and enthusiasm bring the adventure to its triumphant conclusion. Beginners everywhere will take heart.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review
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 58. (Oct.) Copyright 2010 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

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, " 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, a 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 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.


I thought it was really good

David Wiesner
David Wiesner is one of the best-loved and most highly acclaimed picture book creators in the world. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages and have won numerous awards in the United States and abroad. Three of his picture books became instant classics when they won the prestigious Caldecott Medal: Tuesday in 1992, The Three Pigs in 2002, and Flotsam in 2007, making him only the second person in the award's long history to have won three times. He lives with his family outside Philadelphia.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
October 20, 2010
Age Range
4 - 7 years
Buckaroo Book Award
Nominee 2012
Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens
Recommended 2011
Parents Choice Awards (Fall) (2008-Up)
Gold Medal Winner 2010
Colorado Children's Book Award
Nominee 2012
Monarch Award
Nominee 2013
Beehive Awards
Nominee 2013
Georgia Children's Book Award
Nominee 2013
South Carolina Childrens, Junior and Young Adult Book Award
Nominee 2013
Grand Canyon Reader Award
Winner 2013
Volunteer State Book Awards
Nominee 2013

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!