Ed Emberley Books

by Diane Lilleberg

Ed Emberley is a Caldecott Medal artist whose how-to books are the kind adults buy for children and then use themselves. On the dedication page of his animal drawing book there is a picture of the author as a little boy with the inscription, “For the boy I was, the book I could not find.”

There are three titles that I often recommend.

Whenever parents see one of them, they purchase it. The books provide a lot of fun for everyone in the family in settings where fun is sometimes hard to come by or when dressing up curriculum is difficult to do without the stimulation of other ideas. They show how to draw objects step-by-step. Under each step, Emberley illustrates the shapes that are used to extend the drawing. Just continue left to right, and there you have it!

While these books are only a preamble for more “serious” art, they are fun and useful for anyone, whether creating invitations, cards, and finger puppets. Not only are they a great preparation for more formal treatments such as the Mark Kistler books, they can be used for all ages through high school. Even preschoolers will benefit. These books provide a medium to build their small muscle skills. Just require that their drawing tools are held correctly and set them loose! The left to right orientation of the steps will be good exercise, too. My three favorites are listed below:

Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals
In this book, Ed Emberley shows readers how to draw a menagerie of different animals—from polliwogs to giraffes—by using the simplest of shapes, lines, and letters.

There are touches added by illustrating how to draw a happy polliwog and a grumpy one, or showing the animal in different motions, or both a front view and a side view. The book will provide budding young artists with hours of drawing fun and reduce their frustration when they want to draw an animal but donít know where to start.

Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Faces
This book uses only seven basic shape starters to draw faces reflecting any emotion or any occupation. The names are as entertaining as the faces (Puzzled Polly, Lovesick Lou), and the added twists that Ed Emberley provides in this title include instruction on putting action into full figures and suggestions on how to make cards, posters, masks, and puppets using the faces created.

Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book—Make a World
This title is a child’s dream book, showing how to draw over 400 things—“enough things to make a world of your own.” Added touches make it fun. You can draw a car, add a passenger, show the trunk open, make it go the other way, show the front view, add different kinds of trailers, and even give it a flat tire or make it go really fast. You can create buildings, people in action, boats, trees, flags…all sorts of things. The back of the book makes suggestions for doing things with the pictures including comic strips, posters, books, cards, letters, and games. These drawings are smaller than those in the other books, so children can illustrate a world as the title suggests. Just show the book to children, and you see their faces light up before they do anything. They naturally want to use it to work out their own ideas and can find almost anything they want to include.

More books by Ed Emberley:

Permission to copy, but not for commercial use.