“The darling story of a girl who loves drawing and shows that real perfection is a result of being true to yourself.”
Bates explores the idea of perfection and individuality in this picture book that features a girl in front of her chalkboard wall doing what she loves most: drawing things in her own style. Her circles aren’t always perfect, but she doesn’t let that frustrate her, at least not for long. Indeed, those imperfect circles make “a perfect fluffy cloud,” “a perfect flat tire,” and after swirling enough of them together, even a panda bear, who springs to life and draws alongside her. And just like her, the panda also draws in “his own way.” When told to draw a castle “the right way,” he draws it “the left way” and tips it on its side. Or when someone tells him to “draw something pretty,” he instead “draws something pretty silly.” Both panda and the girl like to take drawings in their own direction—or even deliberately in the opposite direction of instruction. With entertaining illustrations all throughout, the book ends on an abrupt but content note of how their lines are “just going somewhere that make us happy.” The panda acts as a fun and expressive alter ego for the girl, as describing him allows her to explain her own approach to drawing and defying conformity to reveal her own creativity and originality. The girl’s self confidence conveys an important message of allowing space for creativity, innovation, and individuality, and that ultimately perfection is in the eye and method of the beholder.
From the acclaimed author and illustrator of The Big Umbrella comes a delightful celebration of creativity and gumption about a girl and her panda that’s Calvin and Hobbes meets If You Give a Mouse a Cookie!
Sometimes when they say to draw a perfect circle, mine turn out a little wonky.
I can draw a perfect fluffy cloud, a perfect scoop of ice cream, and a perfect flat tire.
So when I draw a panda, I keep drawing more and more not-perfect circles until I see a panda.
Then I step back and think, Does it need something else? He probably needs a hat, and then he is my panda.
When a girl draws a panda, it comes to life and helps her embrace her own creativity and unique way of seeing the world.
Amy June Bates has illustrated books including the Sam the Man series, Sweet Dreams and That’s What I’d Do, both by singer-songwriter Jewel; and Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan. She lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, with her husband and three children.