A rhyming tribute to a budding young artist.
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Patrick McDonnell is the creator of the Mutts comic strip, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. He has illustrated for the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Reader's Digest, Time, Parents, and other journals, done CD covers for the Greatest Hit classical music series, and created a license plate for his home state of New Jersey. Hailed as "the next Charles Schulz," Patrick sits on the board of directors of the Humane Society of the United States, and has won numerous awards for both Mutts and his animal welfare work. He is the co-author of Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George Herriman and also contributed a story to Little Lit: It Was a Dark and Silly Night, edited by Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly (HarperCollins, 2003).
PreS-K. McDonnell, creator of the Mutts comic strip, offers this slim story that owes its concept to Crockett Johnson's classic Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955). McDonnell begins with wordplay: "This is Art," read the words above an image of a young boy. "And this is art," read the words on the following page, located above a rainbow of watercolor swirls. On the following spreads, McDonnell's rhyming text follows Art, the boy, as he wields his crayons, pencils, and brushes with gleeful abandon, creating joyful swirls, zigzags, and doodles that eventually form a neighborhood scene, which he enters in his dreams when he falls asleep. The story is slender, and the rhymes occasionally seem cloying: "Art stares at the paper and uses his noodle to conjure up a perfect doodle." Peter Reynolds' The Dot (2003) offers more substantive stories about kids creating art. Still, the scenes of Art at work exude a contagious, freewheeling energy that may inspire children to grab their own crayons and let their imaginations loose on paper. Gillian Engberg
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