Niko Draws a Feeling
One of my twin's favorite books is Harold and the Purple Crayon. It makes sense to me as she's always been an artist. Whereas I can't really draw at all. And that's okay. Words were always, always my thing. But I love Crockett Johnson's exploration of a young kid's imagination and where it takes him.
When I first heard about Niko Draws a Feeling by Bob Raczka, I admit that my first thought was that it was going to be about a way for little ones to express their feelings, much like The Color Monster. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised that it was about an artist who looks and expresses himself in his own way. It's a subtle but important difference.
While I love reading (and being able to recommend to families) picture books about helping little ones verbalize their feelings, I love even more when I find a book that defies my expectations.
Niko Draws a Feeling is about learning to look at the world with different eyes, or at least accepting that others may see the world in different ways than you do. I parallel this Niko with some of my patients who express themselves differently—maybe they have autism, maybe they have a different artist's eye than I do, maybe they don't speak yet (or at all). But they may have specific ways of communicating with others.
Niko's drawings are exactly explaining a moment, a time of day, the feeling that a certain experience brings to him. So instead of it being about Niko drawing his feelings, this picture book is really about him drawing a feeling. You know what I mean—that feeling of sunshine on your skin as you lay in the grass, the moment when I see an orange-pink sky through the eyes of one of my girls, the first time Mini Me held my hand. Niko interprets what a specific fleeting moment means to him.
What I loved most is that Niko makes a new friend who understands him and his way of expressing himself.
Simone Shin expresses Niko's scribbles and drawings throughout the illustrations in the entire book among her own illustrations. I'm not an artist; I'm a writer. But maybe I just haven't found the right medium yet to say that I'm an artist? Maybe my meager scribblings of dragons and naked mole rats don't equate into art. Yet. I just have to find the right words to make them come to life.
And even though my drawings aren't proper illustrations, that's okay. I can still doodle them for myself because I can one day explain to an illustrator the feeling I was trying to convey with my own artistry: my words.
Tell Dr. Bookworm
Do you have an artistic way of expressing yourself? What artist speaks to you? (through paint, music, poetry, prose etc?)