Book Review: 8 Ways To Draw An Elephant
By Shivani Shah
You can teach your child about elephants, and you can teach your child how to colour. But in 8 Ways to Draw an Elephant, you can teach your child both at the same time. Paola Ferrarotti’s art activity book not only fuels creativity and imagination but also educates children on this gentle giant of the animal kingdom.
The story for kids begins with a very important question: What is art? Through a photograph, drawing, outline, and creative interpretation (all of an elephant), Ferrarotti provokes thought around how the media are different. Instead of giving away all the answers, the book encourages children to think for themselves and spot the differences between each interpretation of the animal. Both the education and imagination portions of this book are already in full swing by page 1.
The 16-page book is divided into eight different portions, each of which contains two to three short paragraphs on elephant facts, along with outlines and drawings for children to trace and fill. Ferrarotti begins with the most basic feature of an elephant – its trunk – and continues on to the rest of an elephant’s physical features. Through this art activity book your child can learn about the animal’s tusks, growth stages, and eating habits, as well as the difference between African and Asian elephants. There’s a cultural element to this book, too, with snippets explaining the elephant’s historical role as the pet of kings, as well as their present day finery during temple celebrations. Ferrarotti has packed an elephantine amount of information in fewer than 20 paragraphs across the whole book, in English simple enough for a 5-year-old to understand.
The drawings showcase styles from the breadth of India, including Meena from Rajasthan, Patua from West Bengal, and Madhubani from Bihar. There’s a handy guide at the end that describes each style, its region, and the artist. Inside, the drawings contain step-by-step guides, from a basic outline to the complete, coloured depiction of an elephant, though kids won’t feel constricted; a 24-colour box of crayons or colour pencils will provide enough individual artistic scope even after tracing. The book itself drives toward individual inspiration: its last page is blank, with encouragement for children to draw an elephant in their own style.
8 Ways to Draw an Elephant appears to be a standalone book for the moment, but I’m hoping that will change. A series of educational and creative books about different animals would make for a wonderful, creative learning tool for young children.