Featuring a likeable, shaggy-headed boy, The First Drawing draws inspiration from ancient cave drawings — accompanied by a child’s footprint — discovered in southern France. The Caldecott-winning author/illustrator invites us to enter that world by following one boy’s freely roaming imagination. He gazes at clouds and sees animals. He watches shadows dancing on the cave walls and discerns wild herds. He wonders, “Why can’t they see what I see?”
When the boy announces he’s seen a woolly mammoth, his dad doesn’t believe him — until he picks up a charcoal stick from the fire and draws on the cave wall. Suddenly, his large family can visualize not only what the young one has seen but how they can represent what they’ve encountered, as well.
This fresh, simple story leaps to life with Gerstein’s vigorous acrylic, pen-and-ink, and colored pencil illustrations. His perspective ranges from broad swathes of billowing clouds to the intimate cave with its comforting fire. Humorous touches, such as the image of the child patting the head of his pet wolf, add much appeal.
Children will no doubt grasp the powerful message that they, like the cave boy, can work their own magic. Highly recommended for ages 4 to 7.
Also see my post on A Splash of Red