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by Ethan Long & illustrated by Ethan Long

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: June 25th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60905-205-8
Publisher: Blue Apple

Two artistes conflict, critique and ultimately collaborate amid a bracing mess of splashes and scribbles.

Deftly drawn in ways that reflect their individual styles, Ink the dapper mouse paints neatly limned still lifes, while disheveled Scribbles the cat sketches loose portraits with colored pencils. Turning up their noses at one another’s efforts (“Amateur!” “Hack!”), the two engage in an escalating squabble that begins with insults but soon takes over entire pages with Harold and the Purple Crayon–like figures and pranks. At last, a full-spread mutual meltdown depicted in wild scrawls and blotches leads to an agreement to work together—on a series of paintings (including one on a big double foldout) that bear strong resemblances to art by Leonardo da Vinci, Keith Haring and other renowned artists. Long’s visual exuberance echoes that achieved in the likes of David Catrow’s I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More (written by Karen Beaumont, 2005) and especially David Wiesner’s Art and Max (2010), which has a similar plot to boot. In closing, though, he identifies the artists he’s referenced and adds a distinctive fillip by suggesting that copying great art done by others isn’t a bad way to develop one’s own skills.

An action-packed contretemps, though in the end it's more a bit of technical advice for young artists than a general tribute to the benefits of working together. (downloadable blank sketchbook [not seen]) (Picture book. 7-9)