8 Ways to Draw an Elephant

posted in: Paola Ferrarotti | 5

8-Ways-to-Draw-an-Elephant_cover_LRContinuing our search for colouring-in books with a twist, 8 Ways to Draw an Elephant by Paola Ferrarotti (@pferrarotti) caught our eye. Featuring the work of Karunakara Sahu, Sunita, Joydeb Chitrakar, Harsingh Hamir, Jason Imam, Jagdish Chitara and Mudrika Devi – Indian artists from different regions across the country each working in their own folk or tribal style – this is a book which encourages us to explore how we can all see the same thing but interpret it in different ways.

Every double page spread offers the opportunity to explore a new artistic style, giving readers the wings to experiment with finding their own approach to decoration and pattern. Whether tracing, copying, colouring or simply free-wheeling with a nice pencil in your hand, this book is all about opening readers’ eyes to variety and possibilities.

Some people don’t like colouring-in books because they can feel quite trammelled, colouring only inside lines, filling in other people’s designs. But this book is quite different – not only widening our experience of different artistic styles, but specifically encouraging its readers and colourer-ins (or should that be colourers-in?) to take the tools it offers to enjoy their own way of expressing themselves with pen and paper.

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Information about elephants is interspersed with prompts to draw and be creative on each double page spread. Spot use of colour and gorgeously thick paper make this a beautiful book to look at and hold.

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A lovely mixture of facts and fun, I think this book is also important as it shows (Western readers) a different form of artistic beauty. Diversity and inclusivity are (rightly) big themes in the book world at the moment, and extending this discussion to cultural representations and art forms only enriches all our lives.

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My girls loved the idea of taking an elephant and seeing how many different ways we could “see” it. Spotting some cardboard elephants at a craft shop they seized upon them and asked if they could turn some of the designs in 8 Ways to Draw an Elephant into 3D objects and of course I couldn’t say no…

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Whilst decorating our elephants both on paper and in 3D we listened to:

  • The Elephant Song by Eric Herman
  • Mumma by Kailash Kher. You can listen here, but we found it via the Putumayo Kids Asian Playground CD
  • and everything by one of our favourite (Neo-Trad) bands The Elephant Sessions. Not much to do with elephants, but we do love their music.


  • Other activities which might work well alongside reading 8 Ways to Draw an Elephant include:

  • Making your own 3-D elephant by cutting and folding one from card, with this tutorial from My Creative Life
  • Finding out what Indian art is held in museums and art galleries near you and then going for some chai and jalebi afterwards. If your local museum/art gallery doesn’t hold any Indian art, you could instead go on an elephant hunt, looking for images and sculptures in other forms of art
  • Exploring more Tara Books‘ publications on Indian Art for kids, including Following My Paintbrush (click here for our review)


  • If you liked this post you might like these other posts by me:

  • An interview with David Barrow, author of the very funny Have You Seen Elephant?
  • A day trip to India
  • Bubble and Squeak by James Mayhew and Clara Vulliamy
  • moreelephants

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    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.

    5 Responses

    1. This is delightful… I am loving the direction of so many new and emerging coloring books that fire up creativity… in not just the kids but me too!!! Totally love your 3-d elephants and have to ask what markers you were using on your grey elephants?
      se7en recently posted..Bazillions of Bottle Top Flowers…

    2. Brilliant, thank you… I am definitely going to have to look out for those.
      se7en recently posted..Bazillions of Bottle Top Flowers…

    3. Love elephants and these are just fabulous…think adults and kids can really bond over a bit of creative colouring!

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