A popular Canadian illustrator tucks advice for budding artists into galleries of freestyle monsters, vampires, imaginary friends (“Take whichever one you want”), and like flights of imagination.
Gravel’s most cogent tip is to keep a notebook and not be shy about filling it with any nonsense that comes to mind. As for herself, she confesses, “I can’t stop drawing monsters,” and though she tucks in quick pen-and-marker drawings of actual mushrooms, cats, dogs, and microbes (like “Paige the phage” and “Norm the Coliform”), most of the popeyed figures filling these pages are more fanciful. There’s a spread of “Grumpy Things” (including a scowling self-portrait), for instance; a page of bunnies clad in punk, rock, and heavy-metal band T-shirts; crowds of “Floofs” and “Blimpix”; and creatures and inanimate items participating in a “Fart Festival.” Lots of neatly hand-lettered labels, names, and comments add further silliness (along with snippets of Arabic and Italian). By way of a postscript, the author offers a terrific starter list of types of things for fans to draw in their own notebooks—it’s pretty safe to say that kids who are not thrilled at the idea of drawing “Babies” will be happy to turn their attention to “Gross Creatures.”
A rare mix of wackiness and savvy counsel—just right for getting the creative juices flowing. (Nonfiction. 5-9)