The Collector of Moments

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A solitary boy is drawn to his mysterious new neighbor, an artist named Max. He spends hours in Max's studio, but Max is secretive and does not show the boy his pictures -- until he departs on a journey and leaves behind a surprise exhibition for his young friend. Max's pictures are strange and beautiful. They depict a realm where things, familiar at first glance, nevertheless behave in the most surprising and unpredictable ways. In this spellbinding picture book, the reader joins the boy in contemplating these ...
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Overview

A solitary boy is drawn to his mysterious new neighbor, an artist named Max. He spends hours in Max's studio, but Max is secretive and does not show the boy his pictures -- until he departs on a journey and leaves behind a surprise exhibition for his young friend. Max's pictures are strange and beautiful. They depict a realm where things, familiar at first glance, nevertheless behave in the most surprising and unpredictable ways. In this spellbinding picture book, the reader joins the boy in contemplating these challenging images, in a celebration of the power of art to transform the everyday into something magical.

When Max, an artist, departs for a long journey, the boy who is his friend and neighbor visits his apartment and discovers an exhibition of pictures created just for him.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like its opening image of a seagull suspended at twilight and painted in sepia tones, this extraordinary volume honors the beauty inherent in a singular momentary experience. "At dusk, when he couldn't draw anymore, Max used to sing," begins Buch-olz's (Sleep Well, Little Bear) poignant tale of an unusual friendship. Max is a painter, the self-proclaimed "collector of moments." The narrator, a boy, lives two floors down and plays the violin. At Max's invitation, he joins the artist every evening for an intimate concert. The boy often visits at other times, but the artist never permits the boy to view his work: "One invisible and unique path leads into every picture... and the artist has to find just that one path. He can't show the picture too soon, or he might lose that path forever," Max explains. But when Max goes away for a stretch, both boy and readers are invited for a private showing of 13 breathtaking paintings. Many of the subjects are mythical: "Snow elephants in Canada" nearly invisible against blizzard-filled skies, a circus wagon floating above a bridge in France. Others, like Max's self-portrait, are realistic. But all the paintings, with their wide expanse of space, suggest a vast universe; in the words of the narrator, "Max always captured a precise moment. But I understood that there was always a story attached to this moment which had begun long before and would continue long afterward." The boy pores over each picture and instructs readers by his power of example. Only near the end of the book does the boy learn how much he has meant to Max--and his realization is transformative. With the same exquisite crafting that Bucholz exhibits in his paintings, he sculpts each section of prose--aided greatly by Neumeyer's fluid translation. Whether young or old, readers will never view a work of art in the same way again. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
This strange and surreal picture book will delight readers with its magical illustrations. This story involves a boy who plays the violin and his friendship with his mysterious artist neighbor, Max. Occasionally, the artist entertains his young friend with curious tales of his travels, but the boy is never allowed to see Max's paintings. However, when Max decides to go away for an extended period of time, he leaves his studio in his young friend's care. When the boy brings the mail in, he finds a special exhibit of Max's paintings set out for him in a private exhibition. In one of the paintings of a blizzard in a rural community, two businessmen holding an umbrella chat calmly together beside the road while a shadowy herd of elephants march behind them. The elephants are gray and ghostly, blending into the surrounding white fields. In front of one house, three children build a snowman, unaware of the troop of snowy elephants. The caption reads, "Snow elephants in Canada. It lasts just for the blink of an eye." All the paintings have this dream-like quality and, after many weeks of looking at the paintings, the boy realizes why Max wanted him see the paintings alone. The artist "had not wanted to be present to have to give me explanations. The answers to all my questions were revealed in the long spells which I spent in front of the pictures." Max finally returns and announces that he will be moving away. The boy is devastated at losing his friend, but one day a parcel arrives in the mail. It is painting by Max of the boy standing on a red chair on a pier playing his violin while seagulls circle overhead. The caption reads, "your music is always there in my pictures." This book can be interpreted on many levels. The imagery is haunting and the message of the creative spirit and artistic dream will resonate in many hearts.
Rolph Blythe
The Collector of Moments is one of the most beautifully designed children's books we've seen this season. Buchholz's remarkable paintings - themselves gallery-sized replicas of the paintings Max left for the Professor - allow the reader glimpses of the story through grainy, surreal windows of color and light.
Hungry Mind Review
New York Times Book Review
Not only does his book tell young readers things worth knowing about how to look at pictures, but the pictures themselves delightfully repay the kind of attention they invite viewers to give them.
—Perry Nodelman
Kirkus Reviews
In the manner of Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (1984), Buchholz has created an intriguing story with illustrations that are surreal and strangely mythic. Max, an artist, comes one warm March day to live in the apartment above the first-person narrator's home, in a town that could be anywhere on a European coastline. His stay will be temporary but his impact on the narrator, whom he calls "Professor," is lasting. In fact, the lonely young violinist (now a professor) tells this story in retrospective, almost elegiac tones and because he places such value on the artist's friendly presence, readers don't want Max to go, either. They will want to see those paintings of what he calls "moments" as much as the narrator does. When the boy sees the paintings, he recalls snippets of the artist's conversation that appear as captions for the art: "Snow elephants in Canada. It lasts just for the blink of an eye" and "The evening before, the circus had given its farewell performance." He is often in the paintings, glimpsed from the back, or in profile, and his lesson may be that the moment he has collected in a painting includes the past, present, and future—true, finally, of his last work, of the narrator. By the end, readers have shared what's important in the journey of Max, and to the boy whose friendship has been part of his observed life. (Picture book. 6+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374315207
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 10/1/1999
  • Edition description: 1 AMER ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 6 - 11 Years
  • Lexile: AD800L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.92 (w) x 13.08 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Quint Buchholz lives near Munich, Germany. He is also the creator of the internationally acclaimed picture book Sleep Well, Little Bear, a New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year.

Peter F. Neumeyer is a children's book author and reviewer. He lives in Kensington, California.
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