Master painter, Arthur, a work of magnificent reptile art himself, is putting the finishing touches on his portrait when energetic Max bounds onto the scene, ready to paint. New to this venue, Max asks his mentor, “What should I paint?” Taking Art’s reply literally to “paint me,” Max proceeds to cover the lizard’s skin with paint. What follows is an amusing series of blunders by Max as he works to morph Art to his original color and form. The acrylic scales brake off of Art, revealing a soft watercolor patchwork to which Max turns on the fan to blow off the color. As Art drinks a glass of water, his colors wash away, leaving just his line drawing. Tugging on Art’s tail, now a mere sketch of his technicolor scaly self, Max unwinds this colleague into a tangled mess. Reconstructing his friend takes several attempts, but Max adds the “pointy bits” and details to recognize Art. Reversing the vaccuum cleaner that had sucked up the paint, Max streams it back on Art like a Jackson Pollack mural. Now the friends are ready to get back to work, for some shared painting. Caldecott winner David Wiesner provides an amazing backdrop for a simple story of few words. Characters’ stances, expressions, and gestures tell the story visually and prompt a child to fill in the story verbally. Kids studied the pictures and added the narrative–“He drunk the water and the paint get offed!,” “Where’s Arthur? He’s in the line!” “Art and Max” encourages using language to express abstract concepts of losing form and color and how to restore it. I have found that kids love this book, especially creative ones!
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