I first discovered David Wiesner in college, when I came across Tuesday, his mostly-wordless picture book featuring frogs flying on lily pads. His watercolor illustrations were amazingly detailed and just the right mix of realism and cartoony. (Side note: My then-girlfriend bought it for me for Christmas. I ended up marrying her.) Tuesday won Wiesner his first Caldecott medal, and since then he’s won two more — for The Three Pigs and Flotsam — making him only the second three-time Caldecott winner. (Marcia Brown was the first.)
Wiesner’s latest is Art & Max, the story of two lizards out in the desert. Art — Arthur, actually — is a horned lizard and a serious artist. Max, a collared lizard, is enthusiastic and excited about painting but is a little, well reckless. But what happens when he starts painting is unexpected, hilarious and — because this is David Wiesner we’re talking about — expertly rendered. It’s a short picture book and the only text is the dialogue between Arthur and Max, but my kids have been asking for it repeatedly. (And it was the perfect excuse to pull my other Wiesner books back off the shelf again.)
Art & Max isn’t my favorite of Wiesner’s books but I’m happy to add it to my collection. My six-year-old says: “I like it because it’s cool. Max gets all the colors from Arthur and then Arthur’s all colorful. It looks like Max is the same way because he’s all green and has a brown head.” And my three-year-old reports: “It’s funny. It is funny, I say!”
Wiesner is currently on tour this fall and winter; if he’s coming to a city near you, I encourage you to stop by and check out his books, which are a wonderful window into his imagination. For more about David Wiesner visit his page at Houghton Mifflin’s website.
Wired: Fun, fanciful illustrations depict two approaches to creativity.
Tired: Not as quite as captivating as some of Wiesner’s other books, in my opinion.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of Art & Max.