I Can’t Draw (Stephen W. Martin)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I Can’t Draw, written by Stephen W. Martin and illustrated by Brian Biggs, a clever story about artistic talent and creativity, as well as comparing ourselves to others.

Max absolutely loves to draw, but he doesn’t feel that he is particularly good at it. His crayon drawings, while wildly inventive, are crude and one-dimensional, unlike the stunning shading and perspective of his friend Eugene’s pencil drawings. Asking Eugene to help him improve his drawing skills, Max finds himself frustrated with the drawing books and still life sketching his friend suggests. Drawing side-by-side doesn’t help much either, as Max quickly grows frustrated that Eugene’s work looks so much more realistic than his. At last, the pair find that tracing enables Max to make masterpieces… yet Max can’t help but feel like they lack something. In the end, perhaps Max will learn that art isn’t just about technique, but about creativity and expression, and maybe a dinosaur and robot or two.

Wonderful. Martin and Biggs brilliantly capture the frustration that readers of all ages can feel when comparing their artistic endeavors to others and feeling inadequate as a consequence (the dig at instructional drawing books in particular was spot-on, and my inner child made me guffaw loudly). Martin’s easy conversational text is fun to read aloud, and Biggs’s illustrations capture the humor and themes of expression perfectly. In the end, I loved the message that we should not compare our talents to others, especially as I read this with JJ. Having coordination and motor skill issues, she was actually very impressed with Max’s drawings from the beginning (“He CAN draw!” – JJ), and was delighted when Max learned that drawings don’t have to be technically perfect to make people happy. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ loved it. Overall, a great pep talk for aspiring artists everywhere, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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