A BOOK ABOUT COLOR

A CLEAR AND SIMPLE GUIDE FOR YOUNG ARTISTS

This shiny, cheerful lesson has mixed success conveying concepts. Well-chosen subject matter includes definitions, color mixing and color vibes. Unfortunately, the arbitrary organization calls each hue a “house” on “Color Street,” making the spectrum linear rather than circular. (A color wheel appears only at the end.) Hue implications are intriguing (“Red is loving. / Red is dangerous. / Orange is cheerful. / Orange is powerful”), but low value gets the shaft (“Darker values have more black and can make things seem creepy and menacing”—yes, sometimes, but what about cozy Goodnight Moon?). The text clearly explains mixing primaries to create secondaries, but large, blocky cut-paper–style digital shapes don’t show blending the way paint—or digital images chipped into smaller bits—could have. Most egregious is an error defining complementary colors as the primary and secondary that “work well together... / [l]ike” Christmas’s red and green; that’s the common-usage definition of “complementary,” whereas the technical art term “complementary” means sitting opposite on the color wheel and creating a neutral gray/brown when mixed. Bright, glossy and flawed; excellent idea, less-than-excellent execution. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 13, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9055-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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A solo debut for Wenzel showcasing both technical chops and a philosophical bent.

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THEY ALL SAW A CAT

Wouldn’t the same housecat look very different to a dog and a mouse, a bee and a flea, a fox, a goldfish, or a skunk?

The differences are certainly vast in Wenzel’s often melodramatic scenes. Benign and strokable beneath the hand of a light-skinned child (visible only from the waist down), the brindled cat is transformed to an ugly, skinny slinker in a suspicious dog’s view. In a fox’s eyes it looks like delectably chubby prey but looms, a terrifying monster, over a cowering mouse. It seems a field of colored dots to a bee; jagged vibrations to an earthworm; a hairy thicket to a flea. “Yes,” runs the terse commentary’s refrain, “they all saw the cat.” Words in italics and in capital letters in nearly every line give said commentary a deliberate cadence and pacing: “The cat walked through the world, / with its whiskers, ears, and paws… // and the fish saw A CAT.” Along with inviting more reflective viewers to ruminate about perception and subjectivity, the cat’s perambulations offer elemental visual delights in the art’s extreme and sudden shifts in color, texture, and mood from one page or page turn to the next.

A solo debut for Wenzel showcasing both technical chops and a philosophical bent. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5013-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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MATH CURSE

An unsuspecting student falls victim to the Math Curse when her teacher notes that ``You can think of almost everything as a math problem.'' Suddenly, everything is: ``I wake up at 7:15. It takes me 10 minutes to get dressed, 15 minutes to eat my breakfast, and 1 minute to brush my teeth . . . if my bus leaves at 8:00, will I make it on time?'' If it's not a time problem, it's equivalents (``How many inches in a foot?''), multiplication, nondecimal numbers, money combinations, and more. What's the cure? It comes to her in a dream: A problem with an answer is no problem at all. Smith's big paintings-cum-collage are, as usual, way strange, perfectly complementing the wild, postmodern page design with concatenations of small objects, fragments, and geometric shapes and figures, all placed on dark, grainy backgrounds. Another calculated triumph from the fevered brows that brought forth The Stinky Cheese Man (1992) and other instant classics, this one with a bit of brainwork deftly woven in. Readers can check their answers on the back cover. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-670-86194-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1995

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