cover image Art and Max

Art and Max

David Wiesner, Clarion, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-618-75663-6

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 5–8. (Oct.)