Review (Draw! by Raúl Colón)

Bibliography: Colón, Raúl. Draw! New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014. ISBN-13: 9781442494923

Plot Summary: In artwork that goes from pale watercolors and hatching lines to richer, softer colored pencils, this book is about a young boy fantasizing about going on a safari after reading his books about Africa. He admires the animals and desires to draw them all. He bonds with an elephant and its cattle egret, who takes him to visit all the animals. The boy only has his easel, pencil, notepad, and lunch bag. He draws lions from a safe distance, shares lunch (and his hat) with the gorillas, and learns to placate a rhino on his adventure, and so much more. With this fantasy coming to an end, the boy in real life draws it out to share with his classmates.

Critical Analysis: There are no words in the picture book. No dialogue. We do not even learn the main character’s name. It is up to the reader to figure out who he is based on the rumpled bed sheets, the safari hat on his bed, the pencils and notepad near him. This kid is a dreamer and an artist. What the book does effectively is depicting which is real life and which is fantasy by changing the art style. As mentioned earlier, the story begins in watercolors, ultra-thin lines, with some hatched here and there to depict shadows and folds. As the story moves into fantasy, the lines are no longer so stark. The colors are warmer, deeper, and, seemingly, Colón switches to colored pencils which gives off a world that is softer, almost velvety-looking. The boy bonds with an elephant, the elephant’s cattle bird tags along, adding an amusing touch to the illustrations as it sits on the elephant’s head or back. When the boy finally ends his traveling, the cattle bird hides its face in its wing, as if crying while saying good bye. The book does well in showing the beauty and different facets of nature. This book will make any child desire to search outside themselves. This book encourages readers to invest in their own creativity.

Review Excerpt and Awards won:

Awards and honors: 2015 Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children (Recommended); 2015 Star of the North Picture Book Award (Nominee); and 2016 Georgia Children’s Book Award-Picture Storybook (Finalist.)

Following excerpt is from The Horn Book, dated September 8, 2014 by Kathleen T. Horning:

“The story line is engaging and easy to follow, and, while it’s whimsical, the majesty of the animals comes through in both the boy’s sketches and the main illustrations. Colón’s pen-and-ink, watercolor, colored-pencil, and lithograph pencil pictures are nicely textured and tinged with golden hues.”

Connections: This book can teach children about analyzing images to decipher the story. Use it for an activity where children are to draw out a story without relying on words and to see how others interpret their work. This work can also connect children to learning about African landscapes and what animals live there.

Edited: 2/16/2020

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