Title: Dog Loves Drawing
Author/Illustrator: Louise Yates
Publisher: Alfred A Knopf/Random House
Published: August 2012
Recommended Age: 4 and up
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Review copy received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The beautiful pencil-and-watercolor drawings in Dog Loves Drawing are what initially grabbed my attention and drew me into this book. I love how Dog, the main character, is drawn as if he is a flat pencil drawing, while the tools he uses–colored pencils–look so real it almost seems like you can pick them out of the book. It’s a beautiful contrast, made all the more poignant when the dog is the one creating drawings in the book.
In Dog Loves Drawing, Dog, at home in his bookshop, receives a book without words from his aunt–a sketchbook. He begins to draw–starting with a door that he steps through onto an empty page–and his drawings come alive. Together with the characters Dog sketches (a stickman, duck, owl, and crab), they all have an adventure, each character drawing bits of the vehicles or surrounding world that help their adventure come alive–riding a train, sailing on a boat, landing on an island where duck drew a monster that chased them around until Dog saved the day by drawing a door,leaping through it and landing back in his bookshore. Dog draws his friends safe and the monster held at bay.
The text was written well, but I wished at times that there was a bit more connectedness or consequences from the things they drew (though there was with the monster). They went from a train to a boat for no reason that I could
see, and drew food but we didn’t hear them eat it (though we did see that it disappeared). But overall, the story is enjoyable, pleasing, and great fun.
Yates’ characters are expressive and full of energy. It looks almost like a drawing (Dog) is drawing other drawings to life, though they are still clearly two-dimensional drawings. Dog is the most vivid and fully-drawn character–as he should be since he’s supposed to be the most real (as is his aunt, and the people in his bookstore), and the characters he draw look more like a very talented child might draw. This can help a child reader feel that drawings they create might come to life just like Dog’s drawings did. And for me this is emphasized by the very realistic drawing implements (colored pencils and watercolor brushes).
The background is a bright, clean white–perfect for the pages of a sketchbook–and Dog and the characters and scenery they draw, plus big three-dimensional drawing and painting tools–all stand out brightly on the page, and really feel alive. I love that the characters seem to move right across the edge of the page onto the next page. I also love that the pencils and paintbrushes are sometimes still drawing the drawings that are coming alive (especially in the train rushing by).
There is something highly appealing about thinking that something we draw, and our imagination, can make our drawings come alive and really happen. Readers who like Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, Flyaway Katie by Polly Dunbar, Not a Box by Antoinette Portis, and Ish by Peter H Reynolds will especially enjoy this book.
This is an imaginative, playful, whimsical story that is sure to spark imagination and an interest in doodling and art. Dog Loves Drawing is a delight. Highly recommended!
Good for encouraging: Imagination; Creativity; Playfulness; Doodling, drawing, and painting; Love of art; Love of Books. Give kids this book, and a sketchbook and some drawing tools, and watch them have a blast!