On Our Bookshelves
Ed Emberly’s Drawing Book of Animals

BOOK: Ed Emberly’s Drawing Book of Animals

AUTHOR: Ed Emberly



Some years ago, I was trying to keep my young niece quiet during a wedding ceremony at a church in Italy. As her parents and my daughter were all in the wedding party, and I couldn’t understand the language anyway, I kept her busy by repeatedly drawing animals on one of those magnetic toys that you can keep erasing. A bunny! A cat! An octopus! A bird! A cow! My husband was rather impressed. Not because I was keeping a kid occupied (he’d certainly seen me do that before), but because I’d revealed a talent new to him…the quick creation of a large variety of cartoon animals. At the reception afterwards, he asked me where I’d learned that trick. I actually had to think for a minute, because it seemed like I’d always known how, and then I remembered.

Ed Emberly’s Drawing Book of Animals. It might have been my godfather, or maybe one of my aunts or uncles, but someone gave me a copy of it at my grandmother’s house in Queens when I was a kid. I was fascinated by the technique: if you are able to draw some basic shapes, letters and numbers, dots, scribbles, bird tracks, and curlicues, you can make animals. He started with ants, worms, snakes, and caterpillars, and moved on to turtles, mice, and birds, and then eventually to gorillas, giraffes, alligators, and at last, a full size green dragon with wings. I spent many happy afternoons drawing my way through the book, and taking the author’s “notes, hints, and suggestions” to heart, as he explained simple methods for facial expressions, decorations, and embellishments to his basic drawings.


There’s a picture at the back of the book of Ed Emberly as a kid, with a caption, “For the boy I was, the book I could not find.” So for the girl I was, thank you, Mr. Emberly, for this terrific book.


I’m not sure what happened to my old copy of it. For all I know, it’s still in Queens, teaching some other kid how to draw (I’d love that). When we flew back from Italy, though, I bought my daughter one for her bookshelf, along with a few of his other drawing books.


Buy one for a boy or a girl in your life. You’ll be glad you did. And who knows, maybe in several decades, those cartoon skills will come in handy when he or she least expects it.


Image Courtesy of Amazon


RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): 4 Whistles





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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com


Lead-In Image Courtesy of Adcharin Chitthammachuk / Shutterstock.com