True to its name, An Illustrate It Yourself Book is a picture book without pictures. Instead, readers are provided with text from six stories, with each page featuring a large frame ready for original artwork.
The stories in An Illustrate It Yourself Book are diverse and compelling. Many of them feature dreams and tap into emotions young readers can identify with, such as nervousness about the first day of school or boredom during a rainstorm. Several of them anthropomorphize plants and animals, a popular and effective technique. In one story, a young mouse ventures into the big wide world despite his parents’ warnings, and must be rescued and brought home. In another, a fly teaches a misbehaving boy that being respectful begets positive attention and rewards.
A book that encourages young readers to illustrate its pages is conceptually strong, but here the blank squares awaiting artwork do not immediately inspire creativity. Colorful background surrounding the white frames would have been a more engaging approach, or the frames might have been more uniquely drawn, using leaves or toothbrushes or other objects referenced in the stories. Even a black-and-white sketch at the bottom of the page might have encouraged coloring — and inspired young readers to continue their artistry within the frame as intended.
Future editions of An Illustrate It Yourself Book would benefit from a more creative approach to encouraging readers to bring out their inner artist. Nonetheless, this is an intriguing idea, and the unique, plot-driven stories in this collection will appeal to both children and adults alike.
Also available as an ebook.