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An original and accessible way to learn to draw.

This 144-page book delivers exactly what it promises: a graphic novel that teaches readers to draw.

It is indeed a novel, in that it tells the story in pictures of David, a blond, white boy around 12 who’s seized with a strong desire to learn to draw, and a young dark-haired, light-skinned artist, Becky, whom he meets on a park bench and persuades to give him drawing lessons. After some badgering, she agrees to teach him—with limits and with honest critiques of his early attempts. It becomes clear that beyond just teaching him technique, she is teaching him life lessons. He has to be satisfied with slow progress, learning discipline, and constant self-evaluation. “Seeing what’s wrong with your drawing is 90 percent of the battle. If you can’t see what’s wrong, you can’t fix it.” Once David has learned to respect Becky’s boundaries and she becomes more engaged with her enthusiastic student, they make great progress. They take sketching trips to the museum, the park, and the beach, and David’s drawing continues to improve. Proportion, negative space, perspective, lighting, and other drawing basics are covered concisely and informatively, so a student could easily follow the clear drawings to benefit from Becky’s lessons. Crilley develops his characters fully, making this a true novel and not simply a narrated drawing lesson.

An original and accessible way to learn to draw. (Graphic nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-34633-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Ten Speed Press

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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Larger collections of Harper’s art are available, but this warm tribute offers a look behind the paint box.

Portrait of an artist and illustrator whose work is more recognizable than his name.

Best known for angular, geometric images of birds, insects, and other wildlife, Harper, who died in 2007, spent most of his career in Cincinnati, where, along with illustrating several children’s books—notably The Giant Golden Book of Biology (1961)—he did magazine work and created murals for local buildings. Taking the 2015 restoration of one such mural, an abstract composition called Space Walk that had been hidden a quarter century before behind a renovation, as her starting point, Houts makes thoroughly cited use of published works as well as interviews and family archives to look back over her subject’s small-town childhood, his military service, art training (which began with a correspondence course in cartooning), and the development of his style from competent but ordinary realism to a livelier, more distinctive look he called “minimal realism.” That development can be easily traced in the sketches and color illustrations that, along with family snapshots and views of letters and other documents, make up the generous visuals. The author doesn’t venture to discuss the white artist’s children’s books in detail or his influence on other illustrators but does convey a clear sense of his amiable character.

Larger collections of Harper’s art are available, but this warm tribute offers a look behind the paint box. (endnotes, glossary, timeline, resource lists) (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8214-2308-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Ohio Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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