Reading/Interest Level: Preschool, Primary
Author: Bob Raczka
Illustrator: Simone Shin
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Niko is a little boy who is never seen without his notepad and colored pencils – he’s always drawing something. He is often inspired by the world around him and draws things like the hard work of a mother robin or the ring-a-ling of an ice cream truck. When people see his drawings, they never understand. His drawings are abstract, but they are only looking for the concrete. One day, Iris moves in next door. She notices his drawing pad and asks to see his drawings. He shows her hesitantly, and she recognizes the feelings communicated in one of his drawings. When he realizes she understands, he draws her a picture, one that makes them both feel that they’ve found a new friend.
This book is a great educational tool for parents and teachers. So often kids are told to color inside the lines and to conform to the dominant society. However, some people, like Niko, see the world differently and think outside the box. It can be frustrating when no one understands, but this story shows that there is hope. Creative thinking is a beautiful thing, and children should be taught to embrace their unique perspectives and use them to create something individual and wonderful. This story is the perfect way to help children understand the varying lenses through which people make sense of the world and to teach them how to better understand differing perspectives. It could also be used in a lesson about art, especially abstract art, or about feelings. Touching and inspiring, Niko Draws a Feeling teaches about friendship, creativity, and our desire to be understood.