Ever needed some encouragement to get drawing?

posted in: Louise Yates | 15

Every time we open a book we set off on an journey. We don’t know where we’re going, we don’t know who we’ll meet. We just hope we’ll come out (more) alive at the end. Now imagine if you could make your dream adventure come true… Who would you invite to join you? What provisions would you take? Where would you go?

Louise Yates’ wonderfully warm, deliciously drawn Dog Loves Drawing is all about exactly this. Friends. Cake. A little bit of danger. Being able to create your own adventure.

And the power of imagination and pencils on paper.

Dog, who you may already know owns a bookshop, receives an unusual type of book from his Aunt: a book full of blank pages. Inscribed inside the front cover is an exciting invitation:

To my dearest Dog, May the lines you draw open a door to seom wonderful adventures. With love from you Aunt Dora.

Dog enthusiastically dives in, draws a door and, yes, walks through into his own adventure.

Starting with the simplest of stick men, Dog draws friends and before long they are off exploring a world they create as they go along. They want sandwiches? They draw sandwiches. They want to explore? They draw a boat. Then for fun, Dog’s friend, Duck, draws a Monster…. oh no! How will Dog and his friends escape? Will Dog make it back to the bookshop safely?

Yates has made a perfect picture book with Dog Loves Drawing. The story is so alluring for kids (I want something? I’ll draw it and make it come to life! Feel the power in my fingers!) and it is told with warmth and humour. The little impishness that drives Duck to draw a monster is so believable and causes that addictive rush of adrenalin that makes a story feel so satisfying, once safe and sound again.

Yates’ illustrations are deceptively simple. They do indeed look like something a young child reading the book might be able to sketch for themselves; just like the words, the pictures are empowering! Yet they are also light and graceful. The facial expressions of the adventurers are a particular delight (we like Duck and Owl arguing, and the look of bliss on Stick Man’s face when travelling at speed in the steam train), lifting Dog and his friends off the page and into living breathing characters.

I defy you to read this book and NOT want to get drawing straight away!

After reading this book for the very first time I succumbed, in that heady rush of new love, to getting something I’ve been hankering after for a long time – a proper pencil sharpener!

I honestly think it is a thing of beauty. And even now, at 38, sharpening pencils holds an addictive sway over me! I love the sound as the shavings are made, and then the rainbow dust that is created has its own magic, to say nothing of the end result:

Gorgeously inviting, pinpoint sharp pencils!

And with pencils ready, I prepared some little sketchbooks with the girls. I used this tutorial found via NurtureStore to make mini bound books out of coloured paper:

Armed with our sketchbooks and pencils we set about creating our own illustrated books. Yes, the observant amongst you will see that on this particular occasion the girls shunned my pencils and went for felt tips (tis ever thus – the hard work of a parent going unappreciated!).

Once our books were complete we sold them to each other in a pop-up bookshop.

Whilst making our illustrated books we listened too:

  • Drawing by Barenaked Ladies
  • I’ll Write and I’ll Draw by Woody Guthrie
  • Little Lap Dog Lullaby by Laura Veirs (watch the video here)


  • Other activities I’d love to try alongside Dog Loves Drawing include:

  • Making our own paper to draw and write on. Tinkerlab has a useful tutorial here, and here’s how the family at Filth Wizardry went about it.
  • Using up some of our pencil stubs to create a pencil necklace. Mini-Eco has a tutorial that looks lovely, and you could make this matching bracelet by Cut Out and Keep to go with it. You could also take a peek at my Pinterest pencil jewellery board for more inspiration.
  • Creating a magic door to step through for adventures. How about this Narnian bookcase? If ever I get to design my own home, I shall have to do this!
  • Re-reading Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingham’s The Pencil, and Anthony Browne’s Bear Hunt, two more stories where what a pencil draws comes to life.


  • I’ll be reading Dog Loves Drawing at school this week. As well as making our own sketchbooks we’ll be making pencil toppers out of pipecleaners and googly eyes, desk tidys out of cardboard rolls, and using these activity sheets Louise Yates has shared on her website. And of course we’ll be doing lots and lots of drawing!

    When did you last do some drawing? What materials are favourites in your family for drawing?

    Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. The review reflects my own and honest opinion.

    15 Responses

    1. Therese Fitzpatrick

      Very inspirational. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book not just for my First Graders but also for my own enjoyment. Thanks!

    2. Zoe

      Thanks Even in Australia – I remember reading very positive reviews of Jeremy Draws a Monster last year or so, but I haven’t managed to read it myself. I don’t think it has been published over here… Still, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for it.
      Zoe recently posted..Ever needed some encouragement to get drawing?

    3. anita

      i draw terribly, but kid loves oil pastels for their intensity and easy flow. of course, poster colours for the mess potential. occasionally, she asks her illustrator father how to draw something. when he starts to show her, she gets excited, grabs the pencil out of his hand and takes over the teaching 🙂
      i feel your pain re the sharpened pencils!
      anita recently posted..How corporate practices can shape nations

    4. Zoe

      Thanks Sandhya for reminding me of The Magic Paintbrush. Need to get that one out of the library again!

      Hi Anita, oh yes oil pastels are wonderful – so vibrant and easy to make your mark with. In fact I think I shall put them out on the table for my girls when they come in from school today!
      Zoe recently posted..Ever needed some encouragement to get drawing?

    5. Nancy

      I cant remember the name of the book, but when I was younger I had a book which had a story in it but no pictures. Instead there was a blank space somewhere on the page and you had to draw your own pictures for it – it was honestly one of the first books I actually enjoyed reading.

    6. Katy

      I nearly bought this book the other day, but was trying to be good…fingers now twitching towards ordering…

      It also made me think of Lauren Child’s ‘Who’s afraid of the big bad book” and what can happen when you draw in books!

      Given your excitement about the pencil sharpener you might enjoy Lucy Mangan’s Radio 4 programme ‘The Stationary Cupboard’. It took me right back to the excitement of a new pencil case at the beginning of the school year. It seems to be still available to listen to http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01cks4c if you missed it.
      Katy recently posted..Adapting Books – Children’s Theatre Based on Books

    7. Zoe

      Katy, thanks for the link 🙂 And for the tip about Lauren Child’s book.

      Emma, 🙂 My list never stops growing. But yes, treat yourself to a proper pencil sharpener. It has transformed our lives!!
      Zoe recently posted..Kidlit radio #14

    8. Danielle (The1stdaughter)

      I LOVE this book! And your review is amazing! My children, not to my surprise, are not very artistically inclined. Neither has much of a desire to color, which I’ve always found tremendously sad. (That may also be why I have a hard time wanting to be crafty with them, I tried for quite a while when they were younger and neither wanted anything to do with it.) This book may be just the thing to get them more interested in it! Yay! I’m definitely going to pick this one up. Thank you!!!

      PS…LOVE the pencil sharpener! 😉
      Danielle (The1stdaughter) recently posted..Book Review: Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

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