Art and Max by David Wiesner

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Art and Max by David Wiesner

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: An unusual, fun story - it can take an initial read-through to get the hang of what's going on, but it has gorgeous illustrations that you'll want to come back to again and again.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 40 Date: April 2011
Publisher: Andersen Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1849392662

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It can take a little while to settle into this book. The format is unusual for a children's picture book in that it's a lot like a comic or a graphic novel, with many pages made up of panels that progress the story. The story begins even before the first page, with images on the title pages that are already introducing the characters and what's going on. When they begin to speak they are differentiated only by different fonts, so it took a page or so to figure out which lizard was which and who was saying what. Once you figure that out though it's a wonderfully funny story.

Max and Arthur are both lizards. Arthur (Art) is an experienced painter, whilst Max is a very enthusiastic beginner. It's never stated but they seem much like adult and child, with Art's admonitions to be careful and Max's eagerness and constant interruptions. Art says Max may have a go at painting which leaves him wondering what he should paint. When he asks Art, Art says could paint me. Max takes this literally and immediately begins to splatter Art with paint!

The mayhem continues, with Art, covered in paint, losing his temper and as he shouts and stretches he cracks all the paint off his body and it shatters across the landscape, leaving chunks of colour around the desert floor and leaving Art with a strange, powdery body colour. The artwork is wonderful here, with a full-page image of Art's colours flying off his body. We then see Max trying harder and harder to 'fix' Art, and the situation, for Art, getting worse and worse until at one point he disappears altogether! They find a solution at the end, fortunately, and it actually leads them both to create a different style of art.

There's a lot of humour in the story, with how inept Max is, but also how keen he is to help and join in (much like a toddler!) so it works on this level for smaller children who will enjoy the mess Max makes. The artwork in the book allows for a different reading too, however, with different styles of creating art demonstrated, imaginative events taking place and at the same time wonderfully detailed 'portraits' of the lizards in the story. Behind the main characters, there are other little lizards who I enjoyed watching in the background. The details are fabulous - look very closely at the beginning and you'll be able to see what album Art has been listening to whilst painting.

As I said, we took some time to get a feel for this story initially, but once you know what to expect it's much easier to read. I've since seen my little girl sitting and looking at all the pictures by herself, and it's the sort of book where you don't need to be able to read since you can understand what's happening from what you can see and, indeed, you really have to fill in a lot of the action yourself as you're reading. The lizards are surprisingly endearing and this is a lovely story to share repeatedly with lots of inspiration for making your own art afterwards.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: Another beautifully illustrated book to share: Katie and the Waterlily Pond by James Mayhew. You might also like to have a look at Tuesday by David Wiesner.

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Buy Art and Max by David Wiesner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Art and Max by David Wiesner at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Art and Max by David Wiesner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Art and Max by David Wiesner at


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