My Pen

my penThere are few things more exciting than a picture-book artist creating in an unexpected style.

Christopher Myers, winner of the 2015 Coretta Scott King Book Award for his illustrations for Firebird, written by Misty Copeland, provides a fanciful exploration of creativity with pen and ink drawings in My Pen.

The intrigue begins on the book jacket with the inclusion of an artist’s hand holding a pen and the phrase, “All You Need Is Your Imagination...” Clearly the writer-illustrator intends to accompany the reader on this journey. Removing the jacket reveals an abstract black-and-white illustration on the cover. A Rorschach test? The endpapers contribute with lines, scratches, even a few sketches that continue the idea begun on the cover. Myers even uses the copyright page to present the child narrator as the face on currency, reminding the reader of his importance. His fedora hat, which seems just slightly too large, encourages the viewer to ponder how much growing and changing he will do as he explores the world with his pen and his talent.

The drawings themselves are both crisp and rich. The use of entire pages reinforces the idea of the limitless nature of imagination. Even within the depictions of the narrator’s concerns, the drawings are clear and realistic. The inclusion of a drawing of Myers’s father, the late Walter Dean Myers, is a poignant touch. An image of the boy hiding under a table as he contemplates all the conflict in the world is particularly effective through a decided difference in scale, since the table is drawn larger than the tank and warplanes. On another spread the use of inkblots shows that not all efforts at inventiveness are successful. Occasionally, pens (and talents) hide in plain sight.

However, the book ends with an encouraging page of drawings that reflect many different abilities marked by different drawing styles. It will be interesting to see if a picture book containing such artistic symbolism will appeal to the Caldecott committee. It is certainly a child-friendly take on the power of creativity.


Deborah Taylor

Deborah Taylor

Deborah Taylor retired from the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland. She has chaired and served on many ALA committees and on the National Book Awards jury for young people’s literature. She was named the 2015 recipient of the Coretta Scott King/Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. She currently serves as chair of the Ezra Jack Keats Awards Committee.

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I like this story, it was fun to read. The type of art went with the story which I thought was cool.

Posted : Dec 11, 2015 05:04


I thought it is really cool that how the illustrations were drawn went with the story.

Posted : Dec 11, 2015 05:03


I loved the drawings. I thought it is really cool that how the illustrations were drawn went with the story.

Posted : Dec 11, 2015 05:02


This book had amazing drawings. I was very proud of the drawings.

Posted : Dec 11, 2015 03:15


This was an amazing book! It has incredible detail and needs your imagination to know exactly what's happening. I recommend this book to everyone

Posted : Dec 11, 2015 03:11

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