children’s book review – Xtreme Art: Ultimate Book of Trace-and-Draw Manga

What do you think of when you hear Manga? I think of fun, comics, and large-eyed, cute characters. The Ultimate Book of Trace-and-Draw Manga by Christopher Hart has all of that. The book is an instruction book for kids on how to draw Manga, with step-by-step instructions. The book offers a lot of fun, even while teaching–encouraging imagination, creativity, fine motor coordination, and developing self-confidence. I think it will especially appeal to any creative types; to anyone who enjoys cartoons, manga, or drawing; and to parents who want their children to use their minds while having fun, not just placidly sitting in front of a TV or playing video games.

Xtreme Art: Ultimate Book of Trace-and-Draw Manga

written and illustrated by Christopher Hart
Watson-Guptill/Random House (June 2009), ISBN-13: 978-0823098064
Ages: 9-12 and up

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

For eager dive-in readers, Ultimate Book of Trace-and-Draw Manga provides almost instant gratification, with each character drawing divided up into 4 step-by-step drawings on the left hand page, and the final drawing on the right hand page. For readers who want to hone their drawing skills and understanding of drawing a magna form, there are detailed written instructions teaching each part of the process–how to draw a face in different directions, how to draw hands, eyes, hair, and more.

The book text is encouraging and easy to follow, reminding readers that they don’t have to get it perfect on the first try, and that they can start out with light lines (including guidelines), and then erase the lines they don’t need at the end, going over others to make them darker. These are important techniques for any budding artist to learn.

The step-by-step drawings make it particularly easy to learn to draw a character–the reader can either trace or draw step one, and each new step is shown in orange lines in the following three steps. The book starts with characters that are easier to draw, and gradually gets a little more complicated.

The book is broken up into three major sections–drawing people commonly found in manga (including those with superpowers); drawing chibi-style characters (short, round, like younger children), and drawing manga monsters. It’s like getting three manga-drawing technique books in one.

The book doesn’t “just” teach a reader how to draw manga; it will also teach a young artist that the placement of eyes, nose, and mouth on a face changes according to how the head is situated (looking up, down, sideways, straight on); some awareness of anatomy; etc. This book should involve a young reader for hours; it looks like a LOT of fun. Recommended!

About Cheryl Rainfield

I write the books I needed and couldn't find as a teen. I write teen fiction--paranormal fantasy and gritty realistic fiction. I'm the author of SCARS (WestSide Books, 2010) #1 ALA QuickPicks, and Governor General Literary Award Finalist, HUNTED (WestSide Books, Oct 2011), STAINED (Harcourt, 2013), The Last Dragon (HIP Books, Sept 2009), and Walking Both Sides (HIP Books, 2011). I also enjoy drawing, surfing the web, connecting with people I like, doing crafts, and being with my dog.
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