art, meditation

Dot to Dot NYC

Dot to Dot NYC
Author: Narae Kim
Publisher: powerHouse Books
Genre: Art / Meditation
ISBN: 978-1-57687-815-6
Pages: 48
Price: $14.95

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Have you fallen in love with adult coloring books? Have you started eyeing your kids’ connect-the-dots books, thinking of how much fun it might be to do one, yourself? And once it’s completed, it would be great to give it some color.

Dot to Dot NYC is the adult connect-the-dots book you’ve been waiting for. This unique art-meditation book contains 23 hidden pictures, just waiting for a few moments of your time alone with a pencil and your imagination. Since each design has several hundred dots to connect, each group of one hundred is printed in a different color, making it easier to find them. However, those who have difficulty with small print will need to break out the reading glasses to see the tiny numbers. It would spoil the fun if I told you what’s pictured, but these completed images are well-known landmarks from around New York City.

Dot to Dot NYC captures the spirit of the Big Apple in a fun and creative way. This unique book would make a great gift.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, crafts, creativity

Knit, Hook and Spin

Knit, Hook and Spin
Author: Laurie Carlson
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Genre: Crafts
ISBN: 978-1-61373-400-1
Pages: 144
Price: $14.99

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Fiber crafts are a fun way to use our hands to create pretty and useful objects. In Knit, Hook and Spin, author Laurie Carlson walks kids through the process of crafting several interesting projects using yarn and fabric.

Yarn crafts begin with spinning and dying, and kids are taught how to manufacture their own yarn. Felting, knotting and braiding, weaving, knitting, and crochet are introduced, with a brief description of each process. Within each section, a few fun projects are presented, so kids can turn these new techniques into hand-made objects.

Although this book is meant for kids, I felt the desire to create some of these cute items, myself. But I found the directions and pictures accompanying the projects to be skimpy and vague. While Knit, Hook and Spin may give kids the interest in exploring new fiber crafts, they may need to turn to more detailed instructions to master these intricate techniques.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, graphic novel

The Drawing Lesson: A Graphic Novel That Teaches You How to Draw

The Drawing Lesson
Author & Illustrator: Mark Crilley
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Genre: Art / Graphic Novel
ISBN: 978-0-385-34633-7
Pages: 144
Price: $18.99

Author’s website
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David really wants to be an artist just like his classmate, Ryan Pasternak. So when he spies an artist, Becky, sitting on a park bench, drawing, he begs her to teach him. Soon he’s learning how to draw what he sees.

David pesters Becky for more lessons, showing up at the coffee shop she frequents and even at her home. Although Becky seems to get angry with him at times, she feels David is working hard and has some real talent. In a series of lessons, Becky shows David how to shade, beginning with a loose sketch, understanding light and shadow, using negative space, checking proportions, simplifying things, creating a composition, and bringing it all together. David is an eager and willing student, and by the time he completes his lessons, he’s mastered most of the basics.

Although David would love to continue learning with Becky, she needs to move out of state, and a tearful good-bye ends this tale. The Drawing Lesson is a wonderful “how to draw” book, told through a graphic novel story, that really explains how to draw what you see. I highly recommend this entertaining and educational book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Girl Plus Pen: Doodle, Draw, Color, and Express Your Individual Style

Girl Plus Pen
Author & Illustrator: Stephanie Corfee
Publisher: Capstone Young Readers
Genre: Art
ISBN: 978-1-62370-596-1
Pages: 144
Price: $12.95

Author’s website
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A pen in a girl’s hand can produce magical designs. Add water colors, colored pencils, and a black marker for effect, and she can create beautiful art, all from what appears to be doodles.

In Girl Plus Pen, author and artist, Stephanie Corfee guides girls through a series of exercises designed to bring out the best in their art. Creative lettering and borders, combined with floral swirls can decorate hand-made cards. Scarves, hats, and phone cases become lovingly designed works of art. And doodles can fill scrapbooks and sketch pads, as the young artist develops her skills.

Doodling is not a waste of time when it’s done intentionally, with the desire to turn it into art. Set your inner artist free, doodling with the exercises in Girl Plus Pen and developing your own artistic style. I highly recommend this wonderfully creative book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, Catholic, history

Martyrdom: The Coloring Book

Martyrdom - The Coloring Book
Author: Hallie Fryd
Illustrator: Julia Gfrörer
Publisher: Zest Books
Genre: Catholic / Art
ISBN: 978-1942186069
Pages: 112
Price: $16.99

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The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. As such, the martyrs for the faith have always been revered by the Catholic Church, and their legends have grown through the ages. In this unique coloring book, these martyrs are shown in scenes depicting their untimely deaths.

Beginning with biblical martyrs St. John the Baptist and St. Stephen, this book tells the stories of the many people who died professing the Catholic faith, and in many cases, attempting to preserve their virginity. Each person is featured in a two page spread, with one page dedicated to the martyr’s legend, and the other a blank coloring book page. While many of the scenes are horrible, none are so gruesome that the sensitive reader can’t bear to view them. But these tragic stories and images remind us of the religious freedom we’ve been granted in this day and age, and of those who died attempting to find that freedom.

Whether you choose to color these pictures or not, Martyrdom: The Coloring Book is a fascinating read, and will greatly enhance your knowledge of these faithful martyrs. And let us pray that no more are added to their ranks, as the war against Christianity continues to rage in the Middle East.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Amazing Grace: Coloring Book (Doodle Art Alley Books Vol. 5)

Amazing Grace
Created by: Samantha Snyder
Publisher: aka Associates
Genre: Art
ISBN: 978-0983918240
Pages: 104
Price: $9.95

Author’s website
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Children can spend hours with a coloring book, carefully filling the pen and ink drawings with crayon. But when did we get too “grown-up” for such pleasurable pastimes? Doodle Art Alley thinks adults need to color, too, so they developed this series.

In Amazing Grace, the creative soul is treated to quotes from some of the best thinkers, along with select Bible verses, spelled out with doodle art. Coloring these images provides a chance to meditate upon the chosen phrase, as well as the ability to be creative in how we decide to color it. Will our preferred medium be crayon, magic market, or colored pencil? Pastels, earth tones, or primary colors? A careful artist would need about an hour or two to complete each design, and they can easily be picked up and put away whenever the mood strikes.

If you’re looking for a relaxing and meditative way to pass the time, this Doodle Art Alley series might be just what you need. They’re highly addictive!

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, fashion

Fashion Rebel Outfit Maker

Fashion Rebel Outfit Maker
Created by: Louise Scott-Smith and Georgia Vaux
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Art / Fashion
ISBN: 978-0-500-65045-5
Pages: 100
Price: $17.95

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Fashion design begins with the sketch. Putting blouses, skirts, leggings and shoes together in various combinations is the art of creation. And for the serious fashion designer, Fashion Rebel Outfit Maker provides the necessary tools.

This unique kit contains a tracing paper sketchpad with the outline of a model on each page, along with glossy cardboard cards covered in drawings of outfit pieces. The young designer only needs to select the clothing item desired and place it under a sheet of sketch paper. Then it can be traced onto the model.

These template cards contain over 200 items to be sketched. Even shoes and hairstyles, as well as fabric patterns are included. Once the design is in place, it can be colored and given a name in the space at the bottom of the pages.

This kit is simply too cool for words. I would have had a blast with it when I was a teenager, and any young fashion designer will enjoy creating new and exciting outfits on paper. And if they’re handy with a sewing machine, they might even get the chance to turn them into outfits they can wear. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

GIVEAWAY:  Let me know why you want this kit and I’ll send it to you.  Email Alice at the email address shown on the right.


Drawing Animals Shape by Shape

Drawing Animals Shape by Shape
Created by: Christopher Hart
Publisher: Drawing with Christopher Hart
Genre: Art
ISBN: 978-1-936096-95-4
Pages: 176
Price: $14.95

Author’s website
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If you’re artistically-challenged (like me), drawing all but the simplest things may seem far beyond your talents. Drawing Animals Shape by Shape challenges us to believe otherwise. Starting from circles, squares, rectangles and triangles, Christopher Hart shows us an easy way to master cartoon animals.

Animal categories featured in this guide include dogs, cats, farm animals, woodland creatures, safari animals, birds, water dwellers, reptiles, bugs and dinosaurs. Each animal is shown in various stages as details are added to its basic form. Almost magically, a half circle becomes an owl, a square becomes an elephant, an oval becomes a pig, and a triangle becomes a unicorn. Then the animal is colored as a final touch.

In order to see if this step-by step process actually works, I decided to give it a try, and managed a halfway decent hippopotamus and dinosaur. Making a perfect circle is a challenge for me, but once I had my basic shapes in place, adding the details wasn’t that hard at all. One of the nice features of this book is its spiral binding that allows pages to lie flat while budding artists attempt to copy Hart’s creations. I wish I had a copy of this book when I was younger, since it gives kids the tools to be successful at art. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, children

Arlo’s ARTrageous Adventure!

Arlo's Artrageous Adventure
Author & Illustrator: David LaRochelle
Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-4027-9226-7
Pages: 28
Price: $14.95

Author’s website
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Arlo’s grandmother wants him to join her for a visit to the art museum, and he is not a bit happy about it. But he’s in for a fun treat when he actually gets there. Far from being the stuffy pictures he expected, this artwork holds a secret behind its serious facade.

As Arlo wanders through the museum, he sees the art as it’s supposed to look, but a flap can then be lifted to reveal the surprise inside. As grandmother comments on the seriousness of the art, Arlo smiles and laughs at what hides behind.

Art doesn’t have to be boring, as Arlo finds out in Arlo’s ARTrageous Adventure! And kids will laugh along with him as they enjoy the fun.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, children

Alexander Girard Color

By: Alexander Girard and Gloria Fowler
Publisher: AMMO Books
Genre: Children / Art
ISBN: 978-162326004-0
Pages: 58
Price: $16.95

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Alexander Girard was an architect, furniture and textile designer, and artist. Color is a children’s book showcasing some of his work combined with rhyming text.

In a style completely opposite of traditional children’s books of color identification, Girard’s creations are bright splashes of color or stark contrasts in black and white. Geometric design is also featured. Parents will want to be aware that there is abstract female nudity, although if I hadn’t been alerted to this by an Amazon reviewer, I might never have noticed it.

Color was designed for young children, but parents will need to read this aloud. Kids may also need assistance in identifying the colors in such multi-colored pictures. This is an interesting book, but the art may be too unusual for youngsters. Matching decorative blocks are also available, but these are not sturdy enough for small children.

Reviewer: Alice Berger