Top critical review
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Not as easy as it looks - 3.5 stars
on September 27, 2012
My nearly six-year-old daughter has been showing some interest and aptitude for drawing, and she seems drawn to comic/cartoon-type books, so I thought I'd encourage her with a "how to draw" book for kids. This one seemed to have cute, creative, yet straightforward animal figures that seemed like a good place to start. In practice, however, it wasn't as easy as it looked.
This is not your standard, draw a circle for the head, an oval for the body, sticks for feet and triangles for ears, kind of book. While some of the animals start with a simple circle or oval for a head, many start from the beginning with a rather convoluted oblong form encompassing the entire body. And even those which start with simple forms get more difficult very quickly. Some of such oblong shapes include gaps for legs, fins, tails, etc. which get filled in later. It requires a great deal of visual-spatial ability to follow these winding forms and a great deal of hand-eye coordination to reproduce them on your own paper. I worked on this book with my almost-six-year-old daughter, and neither of us ended up with final forms that looked quite like the one in the book. And to be honest, I couldn't say which of us was the better drawer. As an adult, I clearly have better motor control, but I think there's something about being a kid that helps with getting a comprehensive understanding of the animal form.
Most of the animals are presented in six steps, although some toward the end are only three steps. There are no written instructions, just the progression of incomplete to complete drawings. The steps often alternate between difficult and easy. For instance, after drawing the bumpy outline of a furry animal, the next step may be to put in a simple eyeball or draw a tail. The examples given in the book are fairly small, and we found the tendency was to draw much bigger on our paper, which creates the added problem of proportionality as you try to make each part equally bigger.
I don't know how well these lessons translate into actual drawing skill. I'm not sure I could independently re-create any of the animals I've already drawn, let alone use skills learned from those animals for drawing other animals, or even the same animal from a different perspective.
Nonetheless, the book has been fun and my daughter and I (and occasionally my husband) have enjoyed creating our own animal drawings and laughing at the results. I look at it more as entertainment with a bit of visual-spatial and hand-eye development as a bonus.