Welcome to KidLit Gems!

Join Louise Aamodt, Kristi Janikula Herro, and me for a coffee-style chat about favorite children’s books and the elements that make them shine.

This month’s theme: Illustrative Gem

NameplateAnnasGemIART & MAX
Text and Illustrations © 2014, David Wiesner

ArtNMaxPicture Book


Age Range:
4-8 years

Preschool-3rd Grade

Clarion Books,
An Imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Well  . . .  you could paint me. ~ Art & Max

ART & MAX: Three-time Caldecott Medal winner David Wiesner blew me away with this “Art”ful treat. His entertaining, sparsely worded storyline takes readers on a creative adventure through a lizard skin canvas. Art’s opaque scales flake off to a pastel then watercolor undercoating to a line drawn outline, then back again.  Look also for Max the Chameleon’s blend-action. It’ll make you snicker.

Illustrator acquaintance, Emmeline Hall, attended a recent Wiesner keynote.  Tidbits she shared: 1.) Salvador Dali’s work inspires Wiesner’s landscape and sky, 2.) and Roadrunner cartoons, his Acme props. 3.) Wiesner is pronounced Wheeze-ner, not Wise-ner. Emmeline encourages everyone to delve into his magnificent blog, especially his interactive and creative process pages. (See this older David Wiesner Blog, too. Fascinating!)
~ Anna

Ta-da! What do you think? ~ Art & Max

David Wiesner took the classic archetype of opposites to explore the artist’s creative process. I love the idea of starting the story with a blank slate, because for any artist, any medium, it is that very freedom, that can often times be so overwhelmingly stifling. So stifling, in fact, that you may feel the need for some reptilian armor to overcome it. Unless, of course, you allow yourself room to explore and laugh, which is what Wiesner seems to hint at, when he allows the armor to crumble into a new and exciting form of expression.
~ Kristi

More detail, I think. ~ Art & Max

What a great example of focusing first on the story, and letting the message (explore the world in your own joyful way) come subtly through. If you like those old Sesame Street videos showing how crayons or noodles are made, you’ll love seeing Max recreate his friend.

A few years ago I visited the Dali museum in Florida. I can imagine how much inspiration a children’s book illustrator would find in there. Kids don’t see the world the same way as most adults, and there’s no doubt that Salvador Dali viewed things differently, too!
~ Lou


Book Review: Art & Max by David Wiesner


Watch for Lou’s Gem next!

We want to hear from you!
What children’s book is your Illustrative Gem?


2 thoughts on “ART & MAX

  1. A fun book. I also thought some pages displayed art influences such as Impressionism and Pointillism, creating a sort of art history book. Thanks for sharing!

    • Randy, thanks for teaching me a new word: pointillism. This is an ART history lesson without snoring or intimidation, like SEEN ART? by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. Another fun ART book for kids: LOUISE LOVES ART by Kelly Light.

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