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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Drawing the Line

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.


Developing an understanding of line as a design element is part of the visual arts curriculum. These books are pitched primarily at a K-3 audience.

Book Cover 123 I Can Draw

1 2 3 I Can Draw!, by Irene Luxbacher, is a superb teaching tool. Beginning with a visual list of necessary materials, it shows different types of lines, how to create drawings out of shapes, and how to construct different facial expressions. The books moves on to simple figure drawing, adding movement and texture. The grand finale: how to put all the techniques together. There’s a note to teachers and a pictorial index.


Book Cover Scribble

For K-2, Scribble, by Ruth Ohi, begins with a scribbly line invading a group of shapes. The scribble asks the shapes to play, convincing them they’d be better off with a line. The line becomes waves, a tether, a beast, and eventually, the binding factor in a final picture.


Book Cover A Squiggly Story

In A Squiggly Story, by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Mike Lowery, a younger brother pretends to write words like his sister—his lines are swirls and squiggles. An O becomes a soccer ball. Dots become sand. V’s become waves and a shark fin. His doodles grow into the story of a shark biting a soccer ball and a rocket ship to Mars. 


Book Cover Ish

To encourage risk-taking, Ish, by Peter A. Reynolds, follows Ramon as he loses confidence in his drawings…until he discovers his sister has created a gallery of his crumpled up pictures. One of her favourites looks vase-ish. Suddenly, Ramon is free to draw loose lines, producing a whole whack of "ish" drawings: house-ish, fish-ish, excited-ish.


Book Cover I Wish I Could Draw

Cary Fagan’s I Wish I Could Draw is a clever book which, on first glance, looks like an exercise book overtaken with doodles. Narrated by Fagan, a self-confessed bad drawer, this humourous take on attempting to draw uses positive self-talk as the author documents the process of drawing things he likes. He then draws himself into a story, as a character with mandolin skills great enough to save his family from a scary dragon. Fagan muses at the end that the the whole process might make a cool book and inspires readers to draw their “own stinky pictures” to ultimately be shared with the author. A fun, inspiring read. 


Book Cover One Piece of String

One Piece of String, by Martha Jocelyn is aimed at the kindergarten audience. This simple board book depicts paper collages incorporating a single white string. On various backgrounds, the string becomes a snail, a clothesline, a rabbit, hair, spaghetti, lightning. By the end, all kinds of lines have been shown: zigzag, wavy, straight, spiral.


Book Cover Threads

Threads, by Torill Kove, uses lines as threads that connect us. The figures are simple line drawings, joined by lines. Threads drop from the tops of pages—an invitation to be pulled. A mother and child are connected with a single strand of red, which eventually leads out into the world. This one begs for an art project up to grade 6. (It’s also a NFB short film.) Draw/pick a thread and follow it...where will it lead you?


On her first day as teacher-librarian, Julie Booker was asked by a five-year-old if that was her real name. She's felt at home in libraries since her inaugural job as a Page in the Toronto Public Library. She is the author of Up Up Up, a book of short stories published by House of Anansi Press.

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