Author: Stephen W. Martin
Illustrator: Brian Biggs
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
Last Fall, at a Saturday Kindergarten Soccer game, I was standing next to a Fearless Father who kept yelling at his child. “Run; get in front of it. Kick harder. Ugh! You missed! Don’t let him do that to you! You’re just not trying!! That’s right, that’s right! No, not like that. Do it like XXX!”
It took every ounce of concentration I had to keep myself from jumping all over FF, telling him to shut up, let his kid play, and stop comparing him to other children. Everytime FF opened his mouth, I could see his kid cringe. Mercifully, after about 10 minutes, Coach took kid out for a break and I heard FF say, “Good, take a break. Maybe you’ll get better after you practice with me.” I looked around to see if I was the only horrified parent; and, I’m glad to report that I wasn’t. We all had a little chat, and decided to stage a small intervention. It went about as well as could be expected. The child, was already showing signs of hating soccer. His relationship with his Dad deteriorating.
Kids start the negative self-talk at a very early age–with or without parental assistance. They pick it up at school, at the playground, from other relatives, etc. Sometimes, it simply comes from comparing themselves to their peers and noticing that they are either not able to do something as well as somebody else, they do it more slowly, or they do it differently. As adults we know that different is not necessarily bad (at least I hope that we all know that); but, for a kid, that message is not always clear.
In I Can’t Draw, Martin is continually comparing his drawing to those of his best friend, an accomplished artist. When compared to his friend’s drawings, Martin’s drawings (actually quite advanced and age appropriate) appear amateurish, but only because his friend’s drawings are so advanced for their age. This, however, is lost on Martin who believes he “can’t draw.”
Biggs’ illustration are bold and bright, oversized and colorful when he draws for Martin. While drawing for Martin’s best friend, Biggs draws in a more classical tradition perfectly setting up the dichotomy between the two. The text is simple, and relatable to children, moving along quickly making subtle but firm points. The combination of the two leads readers to the inevitable conclusion that, of course, Martin can draw, and that his style is every bit as valid as his friend’s.
I Can’t Draw is a wonderful book to help combat negative self-talk and negativism in general. Parents should read it and take heart.
My thanks to Simon & Schuster for providing a Review Copy of this book. All opinions provided herein are my own.
More books for this Age Group can be found here.
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