The Truth about Max (Hardcover)

The Truth about Max By Alice Provensen (Created by), Martin Provensen (Created by) Cover Image
By Alice Provensen (Created by), Martin Provensen (Created by)
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(Picture Books)


A never-before-published original work from renowned children's book duo Alice and Martin Provensen, which invites into the mystery that is Max the cat!

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2023! A Publishers Weekly 2023 Summer Read!
A Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of 2024!
Starred reviews from
Kirkus and PW!

In this picture book from the Provensens’ archives, the unforgettable Max, who appears in many of the Provensens' picture books, takes center stage. Wherever Max goes, mischief is sure to follow! He spends his days teasing, playing hide-and-seek, and prowling the barnyard. He’s also keenly intelligent and independent, with his own private life that begins at night. An affectionate portrait of a pet who’s both friend and hunter, from a luminary author-illustrator pair of American children’s literature.

Taking inspiration from their own life at Maple Hill Farm in Dutchess County, New York, great American illustrators Alice and Martin Provensen shared the changing seasons that give rhythm to life in the country in A Year at Maple Hill Farm and the lovable antics of their barnyard animals in Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm. This picture book will include backmatter from Karen Provensen, with more information of Max, the real-life cat who lived on Maple Hill Farm, and her parents' lasting legacy.

About the Author

Alice and Martin Provensen were an American husband-and-wife team of artists and illustrators. Together, they illustrated over 40 children's books, 19 of which they also wrote and edited. Beloved illustrators, they won a Caldecott for The Glorious Flight and a Caldecott Honor for A Visit to William Blake’s Inn, and eight of their books were selected by the New York Times as Best Illustrated Books of the Year. For many years, they lived at Maple Hill Farm in Dutchess County, New York, which they immortalized in picture books A Year at Maple Hill Farm and Our Animal Friends.

Praise For…

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2023!

Publishers Weekly 2023 Summer Read!

★ “Fans of the late Caldecott-winning couple’s work will be delighted to encounter this never-before-published gem of a story about a rambunctious tabby cat named Max… Though Max’s youth involves no littermates, vignettes of the kitten tussling with a bag of sugar, a spool of red ribbon, and crockery accompany text that indicates ‘he was/ as much/ trouble// as/ ten/ kittens./ And he was always hungry.’ Distinctive, curlicue hand-lettering on cream-colored pages enhances the story’s sketchbook feel as the creators follow Max’s maturation into a ‘terrible tease’ of other animals, a ‘mighty hunter’ (‘Max has his own room and bed.// It is full of squirrel tails’), and a being with ‘an important tail’ that reveals his mood. After examining Max’s relationships with the farm’s other animals and its … human inhabitants, the story ends with a glimpse of Max taking off solo into a lonely, moonlit night where ‘his real life begins’—an acknowledgment that even closely observed creatures have their own secrets. A letter to readers from the Provensens’ daughter concludes.”

— Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

A Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of 2024, of Outstanding Merit!

“A newly published story about a mischievous family cat introduces a new generation to the renowned author-illustrators.”

— Children's Book Committee

★ “A previously unpublished, fully illustrated dummy from the celebrated Provensens merits a posthumous transformation… Delicate watercolor-and-ink illustrations contrast with Max’s bravado as he teases Maple Hill Farm’s other cats and dogs but not its goats, horse, or geese. An intrepid hunter, Max lines his home (a cozy nook built into the side of the barn) with squirrel tails. The Provensens adroitly illustrate many of Max’s feline characteristics, from sharp teeth and claws to his expressive, ‘important’ tail. The charming narrative adopts a confiding tone, perhaps delivered by the child depicted in many spreads. After tiring of the day’s barnyard rounds, Max leaves for the fields… Below a rising full moon, ‘his real life begins.’ The publisher engaged lettering specialists to preserve the Provensens’ lovely handwritten forms as text type. Karen Provensen Mitchell, the couple’s daughter, provides a lovely note, with reminiscences, family photos, and an early illustration of the real Max. Hopefully, this appealing package will propel new generations to discover the Provensens, whose visual chronicles so adeptly revealed their reverence for the land and animals they stewarded. Utterly delightful.”
— Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Embraces the complexity of cats: They can be hunters and friends, messy and clean, dangerous and kind. Illustrated linework, with watercolors painted in warm tones, makes the book feel like a loving and honest story rather than a scary or cute one… This is a good fit for rural libraries, too, where young readers might be familiar with the truth about farm cats, showcasing for them how their everyday world can be beautiful—even if it’s kind of messy, like Max. A book for any collection where the Provensens are popular, or where ‘taken-from-real-life’ snapshots do well.”
— School Library Journal

★ "What a surprise to find a new book by the amazing author/illustrator pair, Alice and Martin Provensen… It is a wonderful picture book in the true Provensen style with quirky illustrations and a warm and even-keeled narrative… It is truly beautiful. I loved it… Nursery schools, daycares, kindergartens and junior libraries should all own this book."
— Pam Watts, Head of Children’s Services (Robbins Library, Arlington, MA)

"This charming ode to felines also serves as a new generation’s introduction to the late Caldecott-winning team of Alice and Martin Provensen, whose artistry is on exquisite display in these pages."
— Washington Independent Review of Books

“Watercolors and ink lines stretch across the parchment-like pages in this story about a mischievous cat and his secret life. Max was a troublesome kitten; as an adult, he still tries to snack on baby chicks and teases the other cats in the barnyard. When he grows tired of taunting the inhabitants of the farm, he wanders down the lane and out into the night with only the moonlight to guide him.”
— Foreword Reviews


“A total treat… Do we ever really know a cat? … The mystery and wonder they create in their wake leaves us with a head full of imagination… A delightful read, full of movement and warmth, laughs and glee.”
— Shelf Editions (Lincoln, UK)

The Truth about Max does not disappoint… We follow his mischief and can feel his adventurous spirit from the priceless expressions on his little whiskered face… Max will have you smiling and ready to read his delightful tale all over again.”
— Interabang Books (Dallas, TX)

"A funny, charming narrative … perfect for fans of Georgie or any animal adventures. It’s going right into our bedtime rotation!"
— Splitrock Books (Cold Spring, NY)

Product Details
ISBN: 9781592703753
ISBN-10: 1592703755
Publisher: Enchanted Lion
Publication Date: August 22nd, 2023
Pages: 40
Language: English