Pencil visits an art school to find out what makes a perfect picture.
Pencil wants to do something special for dad today and decides a perfect picture would be just the thing. However, Pencil doesn’t know what makes a picture perfect and so heads off to the art school to find out. There, Pencil questions Brush, who tells Pencil, “I paint for pleasure”; Marker, who says, “Do your best”; Pastel, who draws for “peace, not perfection”; the crayons, because “they really think outside the box”; and Chalk. But the answers given don’t satisfy Pencil, who decides to put them all together and just go for it. Pencil’s resulting picture is pronounced “perfect” by Pencil’s dad, who then reveals to Pencil the secret of a perfect picture. Author McKay’s text is often perkily alliterative—great for reading aloud—and is enlivened by small bursts of humor. Illustrator Motzko’s animate art utensils are sparely drawn, primarily consisting of rectangles with stick arms and legs and black outlines for faces, but they are all satisfyingly expressive. The book’s overall visual look, however, is a tad less satisfying, since straight lines predominate in both the individual objects depicted and in the layout, which gives it a somewhat regimented feel—at odds, perhaps, with a story about creativity.
A sweetly solid story about creating for the pleasure of it and not worrying whether it’s good enough. (Picture book. 4-8)