A small child colors instead of drawing.
In this first-person narrator’s opinion, other kids are really good at drawing, but he isn’t. Drawing, here, means being representational and realistic. Young readers will notice immediately that the child’s drawings, which the narrator denigrates, look like their own drawings. Sala’s child-style portrayals of puppies, people, and cars are no less skilled than—and quite similar to—typical children’s work; if this child’s drawings are so bad they shouldn’t be attempted, should readers stop drawing too? Never revisiting this assumption, the child seeks expression with artwork but “without drawing anything.” The child uses various hues and types of line (thick, thin, squiggly, jagged) to portray moods (happy, sad, angry,) and vibes (scary; “something full of life”). However, the premise that conveying mood through color and abstract form requires less sophistication than representational drawing is false. Making a self-portrait, this white protagonist imagines hues that will capture various aspects of personality, including “a messy, dark brown”—unfortunately linking brownness with messiness. The watercolor, pencil, and crayon illustrations cohere less than E.B. Lewis’ in Angela Johnson’s Lily Brown’s Paintings (2007), a better choice about a child-artist, with child style beautifully integrated; to explore a dynamic relationship between color and mood, see Tameka Fryer Brown and Shane W. Evans’ My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood (2013).
Nothing new—and more discouraging than most, to boot. (Picture book. 3-6)