Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light (2014).
Yup, Louise loves art alright. It’s her thing. Her passion.
“To be a great artist, you have to notice everything.”
The one thing Louise doesn’t notice? Her brother. Who is cleverly named Art as well.
(click image(s) to enlarge)
But Louise does love the other Art, her brother Art too. How do we know? Because when she finally notices he’s been drawing all over and transforming her “pièce de résistance,” yes she gets upset. But she’s pretty quick to come around. To see that her little brother just wants to be like her. To notice him. To connect.
One special thing about this book is the cat. That cat pays great attention to what’s going on (perhaps he’s an artist too!) and he tries to alert Louise. But she doesn’t notice him. (This cat has a similar function as the dog in Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, no?)
The cat is kind of the narrator of this picture book. The reliable one. The visual one. (Visual narrator. Is that a term?!) In fact, inside the front cover, we see that cat sort of opening the red curtain on Louise drawing. He’s our silent emcee. And watching his emotions, beautifully conveyed by way of eyebrows and ear-grabs and a straight up in the air tail are wonderful. (If you’re a kid who asks Kelly in person, she’ll even tell you his secret name!)
Chuck Jones is an influence of Kelly Light’s and and one place that especially shines is with the cat character:
“Chuck Jones had a way of making very specific characters with very specific personalities. He would assign very clear personality traits.. The sly smile, the wiggle of an eyebrow… the glance out at the audience, the breaking of the fourth wall… all of this influenced me.”
The denouement is Louise and Art together. Making art. (So our cat narrator can finally relax.)
What struck me first about this book was the color palette. Black and white and red (mostly). It’s the strongest palette there is. The boldest. And it’s a classic. In fact, Kelly Light’s included lots of classic stuff in these pages. Louise’s red glasses. Her Converse-like shoes. Her black and white striped shirt.
I asked the author/illustrator about her use of these three colors and here’s what she said:
“I wanted to keep a spare palette so that the line work would really show. This is a book about a girl who loves to draw, done in drawings. The red was Louise’s glasses from the very first sketch of her. Red is a strong color and Louise is a strong personality. She has passion.
Then I thought about red as an important visual clue to the story. Louise says, “To be a great artist you have to to notice everything…” Her eyeglasses highlight what she sees. The red on her little brother, Art, keeps the reader’s eyes on him…and his crayon and the scissors.
The red leads the reader through a multi-leveled story. There is what Louise is doing, what little Art is doing that Louise is not noticing, and the cat trying to let Louise know what is going on. I tried to bring the red through the pages as a guide.”—Kelly Light
And guess what? There will be more installments of Louise!
“I will add another color for each new Louise book. The next book features a new character and blue…I think the third book in the Louise series will have yellow. Without calling it out, the first three books are the primary colors on the color wheel.”
Here are black, white, and red or otherwise Louise-related images that came to mind as I read this book:
Barbara Kruger‘s work.
Andy Warhol‘s Campbell’s Soup Cans.
Picasso in stripes.
Audrey Hepburn in stripes.