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August Kids Books ARC Review Roundup

The Rainbow Fish and His Friends by Marcus Pfister

Publication Date: October 11, 2022

Synopsis:

Five Rainbow Fish titles in one collection! 

Five Rainbow Fish favorites are now available in one place in this collection that includes—The Rainbow FishRainbow Fish and the Big Blue Whale; Rainbow Fish Discovers the Deep Sea; You Can’t Win Them All, Rainbow Fish; and Good Night, Little Rainbow Fish. The Rainbow Fish and his friends experience the happiness of sharing, discover how to resolve an argument, and how to be a good sport. It is these everyday but important situations that every child experiences and from which they can emerge strengthened.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I had previously read some of the rainbow fish books to my 8-year-old when he was younger (and to my younger brothers growing up), but I hadn’t encountered all of these stories and it was nice to have them all in one volume for ease of reading.

The stories have great messages (that only occasionally shade towards being a bit heavy-handed) and are perfect for introducing many difficult concepts to young children in a fun and memorable way. Messages like sharing and being a good sport and being willing to reach out instead of attacking others out of fear and misunderstandings.

The illustrations are colorful and cheerful and do a great job conveying the message and mood of each story. The text is perfect for reading aloud to children, and also great for kids with a 2nd-to-3rd-grade reading level to practice reading, though they may need help here and there.

I really enjoyed reading through this collection of stories and sharing them with my child. I also really liked the included activities and author’s note at the end, where the author talks about the inspiration for Rainbow Fish.

*Thanks to NetGalley and NorthSouth Books for providing an e-arc for review.

Rainbow Fish and the Storyteller by Marcus Pfister

Publication Date: October 11, 2022

Synopsis:

A sparkling book about tall tales!

When Rainbow Fish meets a new friend, Humbert, he isn’t sure what to think. Humbert tells all kinds of strange stories: Somewhere at the bottom of the ocean there’s a plug!

There’s a blue whale living near here . . . and he’s going to eat up all of our food.

But before Rainbow Fish and his friends panic, they realize that Humbert just likes to make up tall tales. Rainbow Fish and his friends soon come up with an idea that might make them all happy—even Humbert. 

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was such a cute book! It had a great message about making friends and not telling lies to get their attention. The illustrations were beautiful and I absolutely loved all the bright colors. It was a really fun read and I think it would be great to have in a classroom library.

Kiddo (8) read it with me and enjoyed it a lot. He thought the illustrations were beautiful. He read the text out loud to me and had no problems with understanding it. He also found the idea of a plug at the bottom of the sea very funny.

I especially liked how Rainbow Fish realized Humbert was lonely and worked with him to find a way for him to use his storytelling abilities for good to make friends rather than pushing them away with lies.

*Thanks to NetGalley and NorthSouth Books for providing an e-arc for review.

Mouse and Mole Have a Party by Joyce Dunbar

Publication Date: August 31, 2021

Synopsis:

Every day holds a new surprise for Mole. He just can’t help getting into scrapes – whether picking the first daffodil of Spring, or trimming his lopsided whiskers. But with the help of his friend, Mouse, things generally turn out for the best – especially when he least expects it!

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was really cute and funny. I read it with my 8-year-old, and he found it amusing. It reminded me a lot of the Frog and Toad books – it has that same bumbling silly vibe. In fact, many of the adventures were reminiscent of ones that Frog and Toad would have gone on. It’s a perfect quick and entertaining read for kids.

The reading level isn’t difficult either, and my 8-year-old had no trouble reading it aloud. So I would recommend it as a fun read-aloud for a 2nd-3rd grade reading level and also as a fun story to read to younger kids.

The illustrations have a sketchy, old-fashioned feel reminescent of the original Winnie the Pooh books, with warm colors that draw you in. There is a lot of humor in the expressions of the animals as well as in the movement of the lines of the illustrations. The illustrations match the tone of the text perfectly and enhance the impact of the story being told.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Star Bright Books for providing an e-arc for review.

Let’s Draw Dragons by How2DrawAnimals

Publication Date: August 16, 2022

Synopsis:

With Let’s Draw Dragons, you can learn to bring your mythological drawings to life, guided by realistic illustrations and step-by-step instructions for a variety of these amazing fantasy creatures.

The easy-to-follow visual and written instructions in this book make it achievable and fun to draw lifelike dragons. Each drawing lesson begins with basic shapes and progresses, step by step, to a finished piece of artwork, making it easy to follow along. You just need to grab a pencil, a piece of paper, and your copy of Let’s Draw Dragons, and then flip to the mythological beast you want to draw. The drawing projects include:


Dragons in different poses
Elemental dragons
Fire-breathing dragon
Flying dragon
Swimming dragon
Sleeping dragon
And more!

The detailed written instructions in this 48-page book also provide tips for placement of details, how to create realistic scales and wings, how to shade, and much more. If you’ve never drawn before, don’t be intimidated. Just start with a few basic shapes and follow the illustrated steps—you’ll be creating your own amazing mythological masterpieces in no time at all! And each time you draw, you should see an improvement in your artistic skills.

Also available from the Let’s Draw series:Let’s Draw Cats, Let’s Draw Dogs, Let’s Draw Favorite Animals, Let’s Draw Wild Animals, Let’s Draw Birds & Butterflies, Let’s Draw Sea Creatures, and Let’s Draw Dinosaurs.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My experience with how-to-draw books has always been along the lines of “draw 3 circles. Now draw the rest of the dragon and shade it” – resulting in much frustration and a tendency to distrust other how-t0-draw books.

This book, in contrast, has detailed steps that make sense and actually break down the entire drawing process so I feel like I could actually draw the dragons and have them look like … well, dragons.

That doesn’t sound like much – ‘it does what it says on the tin’ and all that – but for me it’s a revolutionary concept. I’m actually very excited about it because I LOVE dragons but have always had difficulty visualizing them and drawing them.

This book breaks the entire body down into easily managed pieces in a way that makes sense to me. I will most definitely be using it and am looking forward to lots of dragon art in my future.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – Walter Foster Jr for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: The Crafty Chica Creates by Kathy Cano Marillo

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Publishing Date: January 4, 2022

Synopsis:

The Crafty Chica is back! In The New Crafty Chica Collection, a revised and expanded edition of the original book, Kathy Cano Murillo brings her vibrant style to Latino-centric art and craft projects galore.

With completely new projects joining previous favorites, get fun techniques for painting, sewing, mixed media, clay, and paper crafts, and learn how to incorporate recycled materials into artwork. The projects and techniques are ideal for all skill levels. New to this book are projects such as:
A layered resin art piece

A hanging sacred heart sculpture

Mexican pan dulce jewelry made from polymer clay
A shrug made from Mexican scarves
A tote created from an embroidered blouse
Hand-stitched journals

Stamped clay dishes

And much more
Embrace the Latino culture or connect with your cultural roots by making beautiful crafts with the Queen of Latina Style. You’ll discover:
Innovative ways to work with a wide range of materials, including polymer and air-dry clay, resin, wood, and fabric
How to fully embrace vivid color palettes

Ways of repurposing everyday supplies into gorgeous art pieces that make great gifts
Great techniques for sculpting, sewing, painting, and embellishing that will boost skills and confidence
Join the Crafty Chica and create exciting, engaging art today.

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was an enjoyable and very colorful (which I loved) book of craft and art inspiration. While I won’t use a lot of the projects as-is, I can definitely see myself drawing inspiration from some of them for my own art. I especially loved the Frida Kahlo fiesta placemats. As a quick flip-through inspiration book I think it’s excellent. The instructions for the projects were a bit sparse for those of us not as familiar with Latin culture and art, but there was enough to get the gist of the projects and adapt for my own use.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Quarry Books for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: Creative Gouache by Ruth Wilshaw

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Publishing date: November 30, 2021

Synopsis:

Take your art in a bold new direction—go gouache! In Creative Gouache, artist Ruth Wilshaw shares her step-by-step techniques for creating brilliantly vibrant effects with this easy-to-master medium, a perfect companion for transparent watercolor.

In this comprehensive guide to gouache, you’ll:
Get an overview of essential materials and surfaces.
Learn basic handling and coloring-mixing techniques, including layering, creating blends, and adjusting opacity, plus troubleshooting tips for common challenges, such as dealing with shifts in color and value from wet to dry.
Explore how to paint fun, simple motifs, flowers, butterflies, landscapes, and lettering.
Discover fun gouache techniques, such as adding texture and painting gradients and blends.
Learn how to incorporate other mediums with gouache, including paint pens, colored pencil, and watercolor.
Use what you learn to create inspiring projects such as dimensional artwork, clay décor pieces, and cheerful banners.
See what you can create with gorgeous, wall-to-wall color with Creative Gouache

Perfect for creative beginners, the books in the Art for Modern Makers series take a fun, practical approach to learning about and working with paints and other art mediums to create beautiful DIY projects and crafts.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is an excellent guide to painting with gouache! I’ve used gouache before, but I learned so many techniques and tips here that I am now itching to put to use. The innovative projects have easy step-by-step tutorials and the end results are gorgeous. I had no idea you could do so many things with gouache. I haven’t used mine in years, but now I have to pull them out and try some of these techniques.

I must order a physical copy of this book to use as a reference while painting because there’s no way I can absorb and remember everything laid out so deceptively simply here in one reading.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – Quarry Books for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: Create Beautiful by Lola Sanchez Herrero and Ana Sanchez-Gal

Book Cover

Synopsis:

From the talented artist behind the art and lifestyle brand The Oliver Gal Artist Co. comes this gorgeous creativity workbook with 50 glam mixed-media projects, including coloring pages and step-by-step technique projects, to get your creative juices flowing. For instant glamour, it includes a finished artwork to frame.

In Create Beautiful,Oliver Gal’s unique aesthetic is made accessible to everyone, with projects incorporating the themes that keep their fans coming back for more, including: 
Fashion
Florals
Abstracts
Inspirational Sayings
Patterns
For beginner and advanced artists alike, this inspiring workbook includes stunning photos, clear instructions, tips and tricks, and information on tools and color palettes, along with project pages printed on thick, high-quality paper to handle a variety of media.

Add a pop of color, a dash of sparkle, and lots of inspiration to your life and home with Create Beautiful.

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was admittedly drawn to this book because of the cover. I adore the mix of pinks and teals and gold. It’s not really a how-to book, though it does have various projects inside. I see them as more useful as a jumping off point than projects to stick to though. I did get several ideas while flipping through it.

I love the unique mix of inspiration from fashion and color palettes. And glitz. The resultant pieces are glamorous and appealing to me.

My favorite part is the color palettes. They’re a gorgeous selection and give me so many ideas to start my own paintings. Also the idea of adding glitter to a painting. I love glitter, so this sparked a number of ideas.

I also really liked the example abstract pieces at the end. They use those color palettes to create some really beautiful pieces. I will be going back to those for sure.

I would have loved more example projects, as it’s a rather short book, but as an idea generator it’s quite useful and I’d recommend it if the colors on the front cover appeal to you.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – Rock Point for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: Expressive Little Animals by Amarylis Henderson

Book Cover

Synopsis:

In this follow-up to Drawing and Painting Expressive Little Faces, author, artist, and popular Skillshare instructor Amarylis Henderson presents her practical and creative techniques for drawing and painting animals in a variety of mediums and styles, from realistic to cartoon.

Basic Supplies. Learn about the sketching and painting mediums you’ll use in your work, including watercolor, inks, markers, colored pencils, and cut paper.

Essential Elements. Discover the scope of sizes and shapes of animal features from nose to tail.

Emotions and Expressions. Learn to adjust basic shapes, postures, and poses to convey a range of animal emotions and expressions, from sly and sneaky to angry to curious.

Themes and Styles. Draw and paint more than 30 animals–from dogs, cats, and horses to cheetah, bison, and platypus–and investigate 18 different styles and treatments, including using color in unique ways, enhancing cuteness, and combining watercolor with other mediums.
As you explore your creative options, you’ll find that working small is an easy way to relieve pressure and open yourself to play as well as to learning the techniques and approaches that Amarilys shares in this book.

Find your favorite way to portray a variety of animals, from cute little critters to big, strong beasts, in Drawing and Painting Expressive Little Animals!

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’ve always struggle with drawing and painting animals and this book made it seem so easy! It offered some truly mind-blowing techniques — instead of focusing on details, draw the basic shapes first! and in watercolor! — and I can’t wait to try them.

I’ve always found watercolor to be a very intimidating medium, partly because I thought you had to perfect your sketch before ever touching paint to paper. But now I desperately want to try making the basic shape sketch with watercolor – it really feels like it’s going to be a gamechanger.

There are clear step-by-step instructions for painting several animals, with further tips to adapt those instructions to fit other animals by noticing similarities and differences. I’m feeling so inspired after reading it.

If you’ve ever wished you could draw or paint animals with more accuracy or more whimsy, this is the book for you.

Thanks to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – Quarry Books for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: Fresh Paint by Flora Bowley & Lynzee Lynx

Fresh Paint by Flora Bowley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book posed an intimidating challenge — 100 small paintings! interrogate your use of color, shape, design, materials, etc?! “Discover Your Unique Creative Style Through 100 Small Mixed-Media Paintings” — and at first I was dubious, but now that I’ve finished I want to jump into those hundred paintings right now. I’m actually rather disappointed that I have to go and make dinner instead. Adulting is hard sometimes.

I loved the example paintings throughout, and found the exercises insightful and brimming with possibilities. My excitement grew with each chapter and new idea. I also really loved the tip of cutting up large watercolor paper to paint on. First, because that would never have occurred to me, and second because I actually have giant watercolor paper and I’ve been wondering what I would do with it.

I have been making a mental list of the supplies I will need to start. I have a lot of them already — embroidery floss, glitter, various paints, pens, markers, colored pencils, etc… But what I don’t have are acrylic paints (I sold mine from school when making room for my baby several years ago). I DO however have a better understanding of the colors I like than I had in art school, and a lead on the colors I will need to get started.

I’m so excited. I have been wanting to get back into acrylic painting, but I was laboring under the impression that I needed to have canvases or panels, an easel, and the room to store those things (which I don’t have). But. Paper I can definitely do.

I also love to browse my local independent art supply store and the idea to purchase one color or pen or other small thing to add to the paintings with each trip is brilliant. A whole list of supplies? Expensive and intimidating. But I always come out with a few things anyway.

Another tip I found brilliant is the idea of working on several paintings at once, and pulling them out and adding more layers and details as inspiration strikes. I’ve never tried that, but I really want to try.

If you’re at all interested in mixed media painting, this book is a must and I would definitely recommend it – especially if you’re trying to develop your own style and color palette. I will be purchasing a hard copy to refer back to as I work on my paintings.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group for providing an e-arc for review.