Splash Joshua Splash

Activities & Play, character, children's books, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, kids, publishing, stories

Splash Joshua Splash by Malachy Doyle and Ken Wilson-Max

Joshua and his grandmother spend a day experiencing H2O in its many forms. The delighted boy feeds ducks on the river, runs through puddles, plays at a drinking fountain, swims in a pool, and snuggles up for a rainy “cosy, dozy” bus ride home. The child speaks only three words but his favorite is “splash,” which appears hand-lettered in block form. The lines of type are set at slight angles to one another to mimic flowing water. Though not a rhyming story, the words flow with easy-on-the-tongue phrases such as “Deep down, under the water,/under the water, deep down./Into the froth and the foam,/and the bubbles,/splashing and crashing,/fizzing and sparkling.” The bright, saturated illustrations are eye-catching in their colorful simplicity. One slight discrepancy: Joshua appears to change sizes, sometimes only coming up to Granny’s waist while at other times almost to her shoulders. Very young children who are fascinated with water will enjoy hearing about Joshua’s day.

-Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI

Booklist Review: The Little Plant Doctor


Booklist review

The Little Plant Doctor: A Story about George Washington Carver.

Marzollo, Jean (Author) , Wilson-Max, Ken (Illustrator) Apr 2011. 32 p. Holiday, hardcover, $16.95. (9780823423255). 630.92.

Told from the viewpoint of a talking tree on the plantation where George Washington Carver spent his young childhood, this handsome picture-book biography tells how the famous African American scientist always nurtured plants and studied them, but the law did not allow black children to go to school. Finally, at age 12, Carver tells his beloved tree the exciting news that he is leaving for school. Today, the tree is part of the national historic site where crowds come to see for themselves where Carver grew up. The fantasy elements distract from the amazing details of Carver’s life. It is Wilson-Max’s beautiful, unframed acrylic paintings that will grab readers with images of the boy with his beloved plants and delighting in books, as well as the clearly labeled images of the peanut plant on the end pages. Extensive final notes with questions and answers for young children and for older readers fill in more fascinating facts about science and history, including the note that Carver discovered more than 300 uses for the peanut.

— Hazel Rochman





The joys of parenting

african, baby, From the sketchbooks, idea, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, London, pre school books, publishing

In Baby Ruby Bawled, published by Tamarind books in the UK, baby Ruby will not stop crying. All the grown ups try every remedy they can think of with no success. It is left to her slightly older brother to come to the rescue. The task, as I saw it, was to try to convey the super control being practised by the adults, giving them expressionless faces, or slight frowns. If you are a parent you might know what I mean. This was opposed to the total abandonment of baby Ruby’s bawling which had to be over the top and piercingly loud. A third factor to convey was the eager-to-help expression of Ruby’s brother, ignored by the grown ups (probably because they were too busy trying to stay calm).

How Many Ways Can You Say, ‘Chicken”?

Activities & Play, character, children's books, design, idea, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, publishing, stories


I’m looking for translations of the word chicken for an up coming project…



african, idea, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, London, North London

It seems like print is on the verge of extinction,in favour of profits and technology. It’s a shocking vision; perhaps we won’t see new books printed, only ‘pdf-ed’ or whatever other platform takes hold of us.  But while there are pages in a book and words to capture the imagination, let’s make merry and pray that the future isn’t written in stone (or code). To think that in a short while I will be sketching people on a train reading from a tablet. Funny. Its just not funny ha ha…

It might be time to dust off the old sketchbook, sharpen the pencil and go old school for a few months.