Review of I Cannot Draw a Horse

I Cannot Draw a Horse I Cannot Draw a Horse
by Charise Mericle Harper; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary     Union Square Kids  48 pp.     g
9/22     978-1-4549-4594-9     $17.99

A gray shape—almost a half of an oval—sits alone on a sheet of what looks like graph paper. “This is my shape,” declares an unseen artist. Soon, this “nothing shape” transforms into a cat with the addition of smaller and longer variations of that half-oval. “I want a horse,” the cat tells the artist. “I cannot draw a horse,” responds the artist, who then makes some easier-to-draw friends: a squirrel, a beaver, a bunny, and a dog. The cat needs a skateboard to get away from the dog, but safety is boring and the cat insists on fun. A turtle? Too slow. The artist proceeds to draw everything but a horse. Finally, with a mound of clay, the feline fashions a trophy for the artist, which gives her confidence enough to declare: “I will try something new.” The text’s playful and pithy dialogue between artist and cat is easy to differentiate. Harper’s illustrations make so much of so little, using a very limited palette and simple shapes, inviting readers into an artist’s notebook. With a little imagination and some paper, “nothing” can become quite something .

From the September/October 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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