The trend in adult coloring books beginning several years ago can be attributed to many things but two are the inner child in all of us wants to play and they remind us of childhood. A sense of calm is supplied by coloring, like a form of mediation for those seeking calm in the face of a variety of situations. I Don't Draw, I COLOR! (A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, March 21, 2017) written by Adam Lehrhaupt with illustrations by Felicita Sala is for everyone who longs for the freedom to express their creativity however they choose.
Some people are really good at drawing.
Other people are not really good at drawing. Our narrator tends to make puppies, cars and people using a collection of lines and curves vaguely resembling those subjects. He realizes his drawing techniques are minimal but he makes up for it by coloring.
Starting with the primary shades he swirls them on his paper. He varies the shapes and sizes of the lines in combination with the hues to convey his feelings. Happy is yellow and orange fireworks. Angry is dark red scribbles, over and over and over until it's solid.
He is ready with a reply when asked if he wants to draw. He politely responds with
"...I don't draw.
In fact he knows anything can be colored whether it's concrete or abstract.
Some students would be challenged by a class assignment but not this guy. When he is asked to make a self-portrait, he has the perfect answer. Not only is his response perceptive but he, more than any one else, can depict himself with confidence and competence.
With just the right amount of humor and insight Adam Lehrhaupt writes simple but profound sentences spinning a narrative in which many readers will identify with the character. His point of view rings true. With each page turn readers are being given permission to be themselves rather than act upon the expectations of others. This is an empowering message. Here is one of my favorite examples:
Or something full of
The swirl of shades bursting from the yellow crayon on the front of the dust jacket as our young narrator colors loops over his head, across the spine and to the edge of the back, on the left. Yellow blends into variations of green, then hues of blue and finally to purples and spots of pink and red. The white title text pops superbly.
On the book case, still on a background of crisp white, the sizes of lines and shapes convey several emotional moods. On the opening endpapers is a sunny yellow. Complementary purple is on the closing endpapers. The same purple is used for the title text on the title page except for the word color. Each letter is a different shade; red, blue, purple, yellow and orange.
Rendered in watercolors, drawing and colored pencils, and crayons by Felicita Sala the images vary in size to emphasize pacing. Throughout the narrative until the conclusion the boy is portrayed in shades of black and gray, as are the other children. This allows for the use of color, usually on a white canvas, to intensify the connection readers have with the story. The children and adult hand are descriptively depicted.
One of several favorite pictures is for the words
Or something full of
Here readers can see the guy extending his emotional representations. Large areas of green in assorted shades fan upward from the bottom of the page. On the upper edges yellow appears. Lines looking like stems shoot toward the top with small lines and dots on all the edges.
In a word I Don't Draw, I COLOR! written by Adam Lehrhaupt with illustrations by Felicita Sala is inspirational. This story is an invitation. This story gives permission. It makes you want to race to the store to get a new box of crayons. Educators will want to use it to begin the school year or a new unit. Make sure you have a copy on your professional bookshelves and one for home too. I believe it would pair wonderfully with SWATCH: The Girl Who Loved Color by Julie Denos.
To discover more about Adam Lehrhaupt and Felicita Sala and their other work please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites. Felicita Sala has several interior images on her website and at her blog. To view interior images you can also visit the publisher's website. Adam Lehrhaupt has created a Pinterest board for this book.