Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals


When I was visiting with my family over the holidays, I sat with my 4-year-old nephew and tried to show him how to draw a dragon. Suddenly, I had this strong memory of my favorite drawing book when I was a wee lass — a book that showed me how to create all sorts of animals out of basic shapes.

That book was Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals, and I loved it beyond reason.

But I didn’t have that book when I was with my nephew, and the dragon that I hobbled together out of rectangles, triangles, and circles was a true abomination. Fortunately, my audience was four years old, and he happily tried to recreate it again and again. I vowed silently that I’d send him a copy of Ed Emberley’s book as soon as I got home.

And… it’s still sitting here next to me. Last night, I drew a birdie and a fox and an owl. I have an envelope all labeled and ready, but I can’t seem to put the book inside and seal it up. (I did put the book inside once, and immediately pulled it back out again.)

It’s more than just a drawing book, I think, more than just a powerful piece of nostalgia. I think the idea of making complex objects out of simple ones rocked my world. I think it still kinda does.

But mostly, I think I need to buy my nephew his own copy.

About the author

Jenn Reese


  • He's got several drawing books out – Tom bought them all I think and tried to get the kids to use them when they were little. They did use them for a while, and Tim still goes back and references them when he's drawing something.

    And yes, absolutely you should get your nephew his own book, lol! You NEED yours!

    Cheers, dear!

    • Wow, the books even got Tom’s stamp of approval — I’m impressed! And you are so right — I’m totally keeping this one for myself. :-D

  • I dug up my own beloved, falling-apart copy and gave it to Jeremiah when he was four-ish, and he loved it too. Ed Emberly RULES. It is flat-out magical to follow instructions with a bunch of circles, rectangles, and triangles, add a few dots, and discover that you've drawn a stylish animal!

    • I was amazed at exactly how stylish the animals are — they all have panache! Also, good to know that 4 is a good age to be indoctrinated. Muahahahaha!

  • Wow, that brings back memories! I had a copy of that as a kid too, but I had completely forgotten about it. I just reserved a copy on ILL for my nostalgia!

    Thank you for the reminder!

    • Hi Ed! (I am trying very hard not to do a fangirl squee right now.)

      Maybe the fact that you don't take it too seriously is why we all love your work so much. :)

      My nephew should be getting his copy today — the circle (and square and triangle) of life continues!

By Jenn Reese
Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

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