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1-2-3 Draw Horses / 1-2-3 Draw Pets and Farm Animals / 1-2-3 Draw Cars, Trucks and Other Vehicles Review by Cindy West

Freddie Levin
North Light Books
4700 East Galbraith Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45236

If your children love to draw, but could use a bit of step-by-step help, the 1-2-3 Draw series might just fit the bill. I had the pleasure of reviewing three drawing guides from this large series: 1-2-3 Draw Horses, 1-2-3 Draw Pets and Farm Animals, and 1-2-3 Draw Cars, Trucks and Other Vehicles. I suppose it might be more correct to say my children had the pleasure of reviewing these books. The verdict is in--they love them!

What we loved most were the simple directions. No matter how seemingly difficult the picture, there were always between three and seven very clear and easy drawing steps. Unlike other step-by-step books we’ve tried, we didn’t find ourselves having to erase a lot of marks either. Each step was plainly drawn in the book with a short written description to help us draw precisely.

Each step of the instructions is shown in pencil, just as you are intended to draw it. Then the finished picture is shown in color to give you an idea of how the final product might look on your paper. There is even a little key showing the colored pencil colors the author has used in her finalized picture.

The directions for most illustrations cover a two-page spread, with a brief fact included about the particular thing you are drawing. With so much of the instruction being in black and white pencil, you might think the book is bland and boring, but it’s not. Each spread has a colorful and festive border, which makes for a visually appealing book.

At the beginning of each book, there is an introduction covering basic shapes and drawing techniques. Pointers are also given to help you learn to create nicely finished products. With 64 pages each, the books give you plenty of drawing instruction and a variety of subjects from which to choose.

Of the three books our family reviewed, there was a difference in difficulty level. I would rate the easiest as 1-2-3 Draw Pets and Farm Animals, followed by 1-2-3 Draw Horses, with 1-2-3 Draw Cars, Trucks and Other Vehicles being the most difficult. As for age appropriateness of each, it’s hard to say. I really believe that depends on the drawing ability of the child. My 7-year-old son had no problems following the directions, while I had just as much fun and learned just as much as the children. If your child is already an excellent artist, he or she may not need step-by-step directions like these. But if your child could use the assistance of directions, I’m sure one or more of the many titles offered would interest a child of any age.

Be aware that on page six of the 1-2-3 Draw Horses book, there is a reference to "millions of years." This page is dedicated to the "prehistoric horse," and the description talks about a little animal called Eohippus evolving into what is now the horse. However, the rest of the book is full of so many wonderful horses that we chose to keep it for my horse-loving daughter. Page six has mysteriously disappeared.

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2008