________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 22 . . . . June 22, 2007


Artastic!: 200+ Art Smart Activities.

Jochen Gerner.
Toronto, ON: Owlkids, 2007.
1 vol. unpaged, pbk., $16.95.
ISBN 978-2-89579-140-9.

Subject Heading:
Art-Technique-Juvenile literature.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**½ /4

Originally published in France under the title Coloriage! in 2006, this art activity book,  while translated into English, still displays a small trace of its European origins via its illustrations of a French and a Swiss ambulance. According to an accompanying press release, the book is 208 pages long, and these pages invite youngsters to participate in a number of colouring and drawing activities, with some of them being open-ended while others are quite prescriptive. The activities include:

Complete the picture activities whereby Gerner provides part of an image and then invites children to use their imaginations in completing the artwork: “Draw the animal under the water” or “Add your favourite vegetables to this dinner plate” or “Imagine the best sandwich in the world. Draw what you would put between the two bread slices.”

Colour-by-number pages that have a completed illustration which is “labelled” with numbers. At the bottom of the page, a number/colour key directs youngsters to which hues they are to use in colouring the image.

Decision making pages which resemble optical illusions and require children to make a decision before completing their colouring: “What is it? Drops of rain or blades of grass?’ or “What is it? A hot dog, an inflatable pool, or three sleeping slugs?”

Colour awareness pages, few in number, call upon children to utilize their colour vocabulary: “Colour this flower with cold colours” or “Colour this explosion with soft colours.”

Redrawing activities wherein a grid is superimposed on a completed drawing, and the text then invites children to redraw the object on the facing page which contains a blank grid.

Find-the-object activities “hide” something within an assemblage of similar appearing shapes: “An airplane is lost in the clouds. Help find it” or “One cotton swab is hidden among these matches. Which one is it?”

Divergent thinking colouring activities: “Colour the night sky without using black” or “Colour this bush without using green.”

Directed-colouring pages prescribe the colours a child is to use: “Colour the lettuce green and the caterpillars red” or “Colour the dog orange and the fleas blue.”

Visual “homonym” activities wherein Gerner provides an image and then requires children to make a decision as to what it is going to be. For instance, an outline of a large feline asks, “Is this a panther, a tiger or a leopard? Decide what colour the animal should be.” As all three animals share the same general shape, the final decision as to which specific animal it will become then resides with the child.

Connect-the-numbered-dot pages: “Find the animal lost in the snowstorm. (Connect the dots from 1 to 45)” or “What animal is this? (Connect the dots from 1 to 50) What colour should it be?”

Maze pages: “Follow the path the candy takes to the man’s stomach” or “Make each cord a different colour to find out which appliance will turn on.”

     School and public libraries will likely elect to pass on Artastic! because of its consumable nature. Though the book’s contents would entertain a child for many hours, some parents considering Artastic! as a home purchase might balk at its price.


Dave Jenkinson has taught courses in children’s and YA literature at the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba for more than three decades.



To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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