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Thursday, December 4, 2014

DRAW! by Raul Colon. A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster. 2014. $21.99 ages 4 and up

"A boy alone in his room.



Sketchbook in hand.

What would it be like
to go on a safari?"

I had read much about this thrilling new book by Raul Colon before I actually had it in my hands. While the reviews have all been appreciative and upbeat, I was totally unprepared for its revealing homage to the power of imagination in a young artist's life.

When he opens his story, Raul Colon draws himself on a bed, poring over a huge coffee table book about Africa. His safari hat is at his side, his sketchbook near him on the floor and his pencils close by. Turn the page. Pencil in hand, and sketchbook at the ready (and tongue out in concentration), he imagines himself on his way to the African plains. (Do the puffer and medication on his night table give a clue to his early childhood?)

From this point on, we are observers of an artist at work. His first subject is a strong and powerful elephant that definitely appreciates the young boy's talent at capturing his true character. He offers a
personal tour of his environs. Taking his place on the elephant's back, with binoculars in hand, the young artist is fascinated by the many majestic animals they encounter...zebras, giraffes, lions, apes, water buffalo, hippos, and a pretty belligerent rhinoceros! A safe place in a tree and rescue by his new friend affords a close-up look at baboons. They are able to turn the tables on the boy and practice their own artistic pursuits.

A walk into the sunset and a poignant farewell bring readers back to the beginning of this grand trek of the imagination, leaving the artist to display his work for his friends at school.

No need for words to capture the drama of a young artist's imagined world.

Using pen and ink, watercolors and Prismacolor pencils, Mr. Colon draws readers into the drama of the African plains His use of light clearly shows the day's passage as he moves us from one brilliant scene to the next with dramatic turns of the page, changing perspectives and a palette that evokes the dry warmth of his environment. The textures invite close observation and inspire an immediate return to the adventure shared.

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