13 November 2009

Book Week: Art

I've had technicolor dreams of this book ever since a particular cocktail party last November, during which I had an intensely gratifying conversation about children's lit with a pair Brooklynites who know all about Buby's Pollack-y painting tendencies.

Both suggested we immediately snag a copy of Patrick McDonnell's Art for Buby. It sounded perfect. I've thought about it ever since, but just never got around to completing an order online.

Here's a review from Publishers Weekly.


Art serves as a boy's name and favorite pastime in this cheerful sequence, which echoes Crockett Johnson's Harold and the Purple Crayon. McDonnell (The Gift of Nothing) lures readers along with antic visuals and a catchy rhyming text about "Art and his art/ Can you tell them apart?" The boy stands about an inch-and-a-half tall in the squarish pages, and in one Jackson Pollock-esque spread, he is indeed covered in his medium.

Wearing his blue baseball hat backward and attired in Dennis the Menace fashion, he reaches with a brush to fill the vast white space all around him with red, yellow and blue daubs and spatters, zigzags and spirals, drips and dots. Then he grabs a thick black pencil and doodles a flat house, a basic tree and a cartoon dog. All this activity wears him out, and when he wakes from a nap, he sees his creations tacked to the fridge: "Held there by magnets/ (stars and a heart)/ Put there by mother/ 'Cause mother loves Art."

The hero, drawn neatly in a clean black line, with his compact body, shock of hair and giant smile, recalls everybody from Richard Outcault's Yellow Kid to Bill Watterson's Calvin. McDonnell takes a familiar topic-an imaginative boy who loves to draw-and injects this volume with an exuberant comic-strip sensibility. Ages 3-6. (Apr.)

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