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Review of Draw!

colon_drawstar2 Draw!
by Raúl Colón; illus. by the author
Primary    Wiseman/Simon    40 pp.
9/14    978-1-4424-9492-3    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4424-9493-0    $10.99

A young artist, inspired by his books about African animals, is transported to an imaginary safari in this dreamy wordless book. Armed only with his pencil, sketch pad, and easel, this budding Leonardo finds his models in the African landscape — an elephant, zebras, giraffes, lions, gorillas (one of whom snatches the boy’s pith helmet and lunch) — and all willing to pose. He has some adventures — a rhino charges him but is quickly placated when the boy shows it (from the safe distance of a tree branch) the portrait he drew. Then a group of baboons take the boy’s drawing implements and turn the tables by sketching him (and it’s not a terribly flattering portrait!). Ultimately he ends up back in his own bedroom, surrounded by the books that inspired him and the sketches we saw him make on his safari. 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. A final illustration shows the boy sharing his artwork in a class presentation; an appended author’s note describes Colón’s “aha moment” for the book.

From the September/October 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Kathleen T. Horning About Kathleen T. Horning

Kathleen T. Horning is the director of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, a library of the School of Education, University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is the author of From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children’s Books and teaches a popular online course for ALSC on the history of the Newbery and Caldecott medals.



  1. I still must lay eyes on this one, and after the beautiful prose and effusive praise here I will take this out on library loan and perhaps follow it up with a purchase. Some of the story here reminds of David Weisner’s delightful and sublime “Art and Max” and the whimsy of “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” but its clear from your review that this one boats some unique diversity. After your lovely review here and Lolly’s naming it as a potential Caldecott candidate in her latest post I am hot to trot to see it. 🙂

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