Genre: Picture Book
Author(s): Bruce Degen
Illustrator(s): Bruce Degen
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Release Date: 06/05/2012
Reading Level: 5-8
Read Aloud: 5
Read Alone: 5
Other Choices: A Is for ART, Not a Box, Museum Trip
Synopsis: Triumphant tale of artistic misfit and creative teacher.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that I Gotta Draw portrays a misfit student (a dog) who loves to draw but isn't doing well in school -- until an understanding and clever new teacher (a cat) finds a way to reach him and teach him by letting him draw as he learns. This is a great book for kids who feel like others don't understand their passion or talent and for kids who care more about art than some of the other things that are more validated by classmates, teachers, and family members. The teacher in the book is a model of individualized instruction who's not willing to accept failure from a student who has trouble conforming.
- Families can talk about what special passions or talents they have. What do you like doing more than anything else? What special talents do you have?
- Does having the characters be dogs and cats make the story more fun than if they were human?
- Does Charlie's teacher seem like any teachers you've had?
What's the story?
Charlie Muttnik loves to draw, and that's all he cares about doing. He draws on his spelling papers, doodles on his math problems, and draws pictures for homework assignments instead of writing words. After he gets a bad report card, his understanding teacher finds a way to help him learn as he draws.
Is it any good?
Bruce Degen, illustrator of the Magic School Bus series, shows what it feels like to be an artistic kid who's saved from academic failure by an insightful, creative teacher who figures out how to help him learn while using his skill as an artist. Without being heavy-handed, I GOTTA DRAW conveys a great message about learning differences and celebrates a teacher who can think outside the box and bring out the best in her students.
The Good Stuff
Messages: Suggests that kids should try hard in school, even if they learn differently than most of the kids. Shows that a good teacher can bring out the best in a student who learns differently than most of his classmates. Implies that a person should follow his or her passion, despite feeling like a misfit.
Educational Value: Shows the tools an artist uses -- pencil, chalk, paints. Shows what a classroom setting is like, with tests, homework papers, and report cards. Several fun puns in this dog-and-cat world, from canine characters Charlie Muttnik and Principal Bowser to the space alien Charlie draws: E.T.T., for Extra-Terrestrial Terrier.
Role Models: Charlie loves to draw and never stops pursuing his passion for art. His home is crowded and busy, but his parents are concerned, loving, and ultimately supportive. His feline teacher is a fantatsic role model, because she finds a way to help Charlie learn while doing what he loves: drawing.
What to watch out for
Violence & scariness: Not an issue
Sexy stuff: Not an issue
Language: Not an issue