cover image I Can’t Draw

I Can’t Draw

Stephen W. Martin, illus. by Brian Biggs. McElderry, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-5344-9341-4

White-presenting Max, a brash kid with snark to spare, views his perceived lack of drawing skills as a problem to solve. A blocky, crudely crayoned drawing on legal paper makes the situation plain: Max can draw, he’s just not executing to the level he would prefer. He asks the audience to guess what he’s rendered: “It starts with the letter H.” “Yes,” exults Max, with a clenched fist: “It is a horse!! I nailed it!!!” When the horse has the last word (“Did you though? DID YOU?”), though, Max enlists the help of artist classmate Eugene, portrayed with brown skin. In Biggs’s hands, Eugene’s drawings are small classical masterpieces against which Max’s cartoon scrawls offer amusing contrast. Eugene recommends drawing fruit as practice; Max would rather draw a robot stomping on the fruit. Yet an unexpected technique allows Max to mimic Eugene’s style, leading to a collaboration that combines Eugene’s skill with Max’s “flavor.” Martin (Fluffy McWhiskers Cuteness Explosion) clearly plumps for collaboration over competition (“I forgot all about trying to draw like Eugene”) in a portrait of creative fulfillment, but it’s Max’s story all the way. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)