Friday, November 05, 2021

The Gift

Written by Alain Serge Dzotap

Illustrated by Delphine Renon

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (February 15, 2022)

A little yellow leopard named Leo gets a writing pen for his birthday. His father tells him that the pen has many beautiful things inside. This is a mystery to Leo. But his father goes off to the market before he can explain. How do you get the beautiful things out? Leo, accompanied by his pet lizard (a gecko?) asks his sister to explain. But she just shakes the pen until ink drops out. Leo's bird friend doesn't believe anything of importance can be in something so small. Leo’s giraffe friend blows on the pen, but no music comes out. Then Leo’s mama shows him that the pen contains his name “and all the world.”  Together, Leo and his mother write his name. “Is there cake in my pen?" asks Leo.” His mother holds his paw as they write the word cake and many other words.  On his own, Leo draws pages and pages of pictures. 

Back from the market Leo’s dad admires his drawings and the many things he found in his pen—  Well done, my darling— you’re a natural!"

Delphine Renon's clean and colorful illustrations suit the text. The Gift is a lovely way to introduce kids to the magic of writing and drawing. This book, paired with a pen, is the perfect gift for a budding author or illustrator.

See more charming work by Delphine Renon here:

Thank you to Eerdmans for the review copy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Highlights Book of Things to Draw, and The Highlights Book of Things to Write

Parents and caregivers looking for ways to keep screen-time down should open The Highlights Book of Things to Draw, and The Highlights Book of Things to Write. Both are collections of games and ideas with plenty of room for creating directly on their pages. 

Things to Draw has step by step lessons on how to draw animals, as well as open-ended prompts like picturing the past. One spread has empty frames for creating self-portraits. Both books suggest designing cartoon self-portraits. These include templates with numbered panels so kids can plan for a beginning, middle and end to their comic. 

Things to Write has ideas for poems, and pages for expressing feelings by writing a sympathy note or an autobiography. For budding journalists, there are prompts for making a newsletter, interviewing older relatives or neighbors, or going back in time. Some ideas will inspire collaborations, such as writing postcards to friends with invitations for them to write back, or writing a story started by one person and finished by another. 

The pages are designed with fun, colorful illustrations and borders, making them a perfect jumping-off point for anyone needing inspiration or anyone intimidated by the blank page.

Illustration from The Highlights Book of Things to Write

Illustration from The Highlights Book of Things to Draw