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Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 9 years, 9 months ago

2 July 2010 ART & MAX by David Wiesner, Clarion, October 2010, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-618-75663-6


"When that fat old sun in the sky is falling,

Summer evening birds are calling

Children's laughter in my ears

The last sunlight disappears

And if you see, don't make a sound

Pick your feet up off the ground

And if you hear as the warm night falls

The silver sound from a time so strange

Sing to me

Sing to me"

-- David Gilmour, 1970


I've always found that any interactive educational process, when it is working, is a two-way street.  The teacher evolves through teaching just as the student grows through learning.  The artistic teen with whom I shared this groundbreaking picturebook believes it is even more generally the case that we are all constantly changing through interaction with everyone with whom we come in contact. 


"I can paint too, Arthur!"


David Wiesner begins ART & MAX, a tale of two reptilian artists and the transformative power of art, by paying a visual homage to some of his adolescent inspirations: George Herriman, Pete Townsend, and Pink Floyd.  Being someone with a lot of happy, long-lived memories from 1970 -- age fifteen for me, fourteen for Wiesner -- I am dying to know what the other three stacked-up record albums he's depicted are.  In fact, I've emailed some old friends to see if they could figure out the fifth one in the stack from the distinctive pattern on its spine.  Nobody knows and now they are all waiting for the answer, too.  (This is just like being back in high school, sitting around, deciphering album covers...)


"'Arthur?  What should I paint?'

"'Well...you could paint me.'

"'You?  Really?'


Arthur is the master artist and Max is the rambunctious beginner.  In playing the role of the wiseguy -- taking Arthur literally and proceeding to cover him with paint -- Max instigates a journey through the exploration of artistic media.  When Max covers Arthur with the paint, Arthur's fury causes the layer of paint to crack and then shatter, leaving Arthur depicted in a layer of pastels.  Then Max points a fan in his direction, blowing away the pastels to reveal Arthur depicted in watercolors.  Next, Max plies Arthur with water, which washes out the watercolors to reveal Arthur depicted as a line drawing.  Grabbing Arthur's tail, Max unwinds what is left of Arthur and ends up with a jumble of thread-like line from which he then needs to reconstruct his mentor.  Arthur, of course, will never be the same again. 


"His eyes are the eyes that transmit all they know

Sparkle warm crystalline glances to show

That he is your leader and he is your guide

On the amazing journey together you'll ride"

-- Pete Townsend (1969)


It is almost scary to see the extent of David Wiesner's magic through which he pushes the envelope book after book.  Upon savoring that magic in ART & MAX for a while, one can just imagine some fourteen year-old aspiring artist getting his or her hands on this amazing journey of a picturebook and never again being the same.   


Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middle_school_lit/

FTC NOTICE: Richie receives free books from lots of publishers who hope he will Pick their books.  You can figure that any review was written after reading and dog-earring a free copy received.  Richie retains these review copies for his rereading pleasure and for use in his booktalks at schools and libraries.

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