David Wiesner is one of those authors/illustrators for me… When I hear that he has a new book coming out, I immediately request it from the library so that I can get it right when it arrives. I just love his work. While Flotsam remains my favorite book of his (and one of my favorite wordless books, too), Art and Max is a close second. As an added bonus, my girls adore Art and Max as well! Read on for reasons why we love this wordless wonder!
To start with, let’s talk about Wiesner’s illustrations. I feel in love with his works through his wordless picture books, so that should clue you in to just how wonderful and both richly-colored and richly detailed his paintings are. Though this story does indeed have words, one could easily cover the words and tell an amazing story just using the pictures. In Art and Max, I’m especially impressed with the details on the lizards’ skins, as well as the way he depicts a variety of artistic media, from oil paint, splotches of paint that have been flung, dried paint that is cracking away, and dust from ground-up paint pieces.
And, check out how Wiesner draws readers into his characters, through their body language and emotions! Yes, we get some of how both Art and Max are feeling through the dialogue, but there is so much more to both of them that we get through these illustrations. And, the other 3 characters never say anything, but their personalities shine through as well! I love the juxtaposition of the two friends who seem pretty much up for anything with the one who just wants to have his portrait painted.
Last week, I posted about dialogue-heavy books, books that could easily be read “readers’ theater”-style or acted out without needing a narrator. Art and Max fit perfectly in this list! Wiesner wrote this completely in dialogue, differentiating Art’s and Max’s voices through his choice of font color and style. And, his choice of font color and style also gives readers a tiny bit more insight into Art’s and Max’s personalities– one is standard and black, while the other is green, italicized, and, well, less formal.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly for kids, Art and Max is just fun! Our girls giggle every time over the honest misunderstanding of the words “paint me.” They laugh at Art’s overblown reactions to just about everything in the book, they root for Max’s exuberance and enthusiasm, and they love to study the artwork and details on every page. This one is definitely a winner in our house!
Publishers recommend this book for ages 5-8, but our 3.5-year-old adores this one too!
Are you a big David Wiesner fan, too? If so, do you prefer his wordless wonders or his books like Art and Max?
If you liked this, check out:
The Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems
Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont
Chalk by Bill Thomson