Book review: Niko Draws a Feeling, by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Simone Shin

Raczka, Bob. Illustrated by Simone Shin. Niko Draws a Feeling. Carolrhoda Books, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781467798433. Unp. Ages 3-7. P7 Q8  

How do you draw the sound of the ice cream truck’s bell? How do you capture the feeling of loneliness in two dimensions? Niko, the title character in Niko Draws a Feeling, expresses himself and his experiences by drawing them. His drawings aren’t representational or typical. As a result, his art is often misunderstood by his peers, his teachers, and even his parents. Will he ever meet someone who appreciates his particular abstraction? Niko’s feeling of being misunderstood is common and relatable. Even young readers who cannot sympathize with his interest in art, will recognize his frustration at being questioned about something that, to him, is beyond obvious. Energetic crayon coils are scribbled over the book’s mixed media illustrations. These colorful tornados represent Niko’s emotions in the same style of his drawings.

Verdict: This sensitive book is an appropriate addition to the public library and classroom. It’s hard to be a kid. Niko Draws a Feeling discusses the necessity of having peers who understand and value our individuality.

May 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.

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