Friday, October 21, 2022

Today's read... I Can't Draw by Stephen W. Martin

 Today's read just hit the shelves a couple of days ago, so it's hot off the press! (Sorry, I just had to say that). Anyway, it sounds like a super cute read and centers around a boy who can't draw. I remember a kindergarten teacher complaining that my oldest couldn't draw a house properly, saying it was a sign of underdevelopment. Which I had to smile two years later, when as a 2nd grader, the school and teachers were amazed at the depth and details found in his sketches. Talent is in the eye of the beholder, I guess!

by Stephen W. Martin
Illustrated by Brian Biggs
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Picture Book
48 pages
ages 4 to 8

The Idea Jar meets When I Draw a Panda in this hilarious picture book following a boy who recruits his talented friend to teach him how to draw!

Max loves to draw, but he’s not very good at it. No, seriously, just look at some of his drawings. Ouch. So he asks his best friend, Eugene, for help. Working side by side, it’s pretty obvious there’s no hope for Max. Until Eugene has a brilliant idea, and they find a way to use Max’s unique talents to turn up the awesome and have some fun! A lot of fun!

Brian Bigg’s hilarious illustrations joinStephen W. Martin’s conversational text to create a laugh-out-loud read about embracing your talent and creativity that budding artists everywhere will relate to!



When a boy decides that his art isn't as good as his best friend's, not only is an important lesson to be learned but a bit of silliness begins.

Max loves to draw, but he's not very good at it. So, his best friend, who just happens to be an amazing artist, decides to help him out. One technique after another flows in as the friend gives his best to teach Max how to create artwork as wonderful as his own, but each attempt ends in a flop. Until it doesn't, but that means Max is now sketching the exact same way as his friend...and there's no fun in that.

This book starts out and ends with two very different tutorials on how to draw a cat, step by step...and it fits perfectly. (Plus, readers learn how to draw cats, so kudos!) After this, we meet Max, who states right away that his drawing skills stink (although it's not clear who told him that). A few examples follow...and honestly, they weren't bad. My kids knew right away what he drew even though, according to the text, they were suppose to guess and received extra (totally unnecessary) hints at what it could be. His lack of self-confidence was a little confusing for us. Well, until his best friend's artwork comes into play—shaded and realistic, which would mean a very talented kid of that age. But even here, the best friend doesn't belittle Max in an obvious way. It's more subtle as he teaches Max to become 'better'. So, on this end, the story was a little off for us. Still, it was a fun read.

Max's creativity is amazing and ensures giggles and laughs. He embodies cartoon wonderfulness. More serious art fans will enjoy his friend's style and probably pick up some ideas for their own sketches along the way...which is also great because there is another (one or two) tutorial on how-to-draw something in these pages. So, while there's a great message about the broad range creativity can steer, there's also some do-it-yourself fun.

I can see this one working well for groups as a read-aloud, especially when connected with a chance to sketch and draw afterwards. 

And here they are...

Stephen W. Martin is a writer on Netflix’s Emmy-nominated Trash Truck along with Frederator’s Bravest Warriors. Stephen is also the author of several picture books, including Charlotte and the RockFluffy McWhiskers Cuteness Explosion, and I Can’t Draw. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and dog. Visit him at

Brian Biggs is the author and illustrator of many books for kids, including the Tinyville Town books, the New York Times bestselling Frank Einstein series (written by Jon Scieszka), Everything Goes, and Bike & Trike by Elizabeth Verdick. Brian has worked as an art director, graphic designer, and animator for interactivity and multimedia projects. His illustrations have appeared in magazines, newspapers, advertising, posters, toys, and puzzles. He works in an old garage. Visit him at

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