Creature Feature

What child hasn’t tried to emulate their favorite artists’ creations? Now they have the opportunity to color alongside some of today’s most beloved picture-book illustrators. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s American edition of Draw Me! Color Me! Creatures, ($11.99, 120 pages, ages 4-8) includes work by 43 illustrators, from Emily Gravett (The Odd Egg; Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears), Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo) Jan Pienkowski (The Glass Mountain) and others whose lions, aliens, and all sorts of fantastical creatures are in desperate need of color and sparkle. Children (and adults) will revel in this who’s-who of picture-book illustrators, adding their own creative embellishments. Instructions range from simple (Jim Field’s lonely pigeon requires companions), to complex (Sarah McIntyre provides step-by-step instructions on drawing a bird using a real feather). Originally published in the U.K. by Macmillan, the majority of the collaborators are based in Europe–here’s hoping for a version including illustrators from North America.

Put this on pre-order for the budding artists in your life. (Available March 1)  

Staying in the Lines

Coloring books have reached the zenith of sophisticated stress-release and mindfulness for adults – one need look no further than the pricey pattern tablets offered with creamy Faber-Castel colored pencils – but coloring books for kids offer inexpensive, portable, and decidedly screen-free ways to relax and pass the time. The following three selections are the best of the pack:

I Heart Cute Coloring, by Jess Bradley; Price, Stern, Sloan, $9.99, 128 pages, ages 6-9.

Yes, this chunky tablet delivers exactly what the title promises: page after page of unicorns, reindeer and bathing penguins. The vaguely anime style lend the book an air of cool no pre-tween can resist. Rather than swipe your kid’s copy, adults can pick up the companion volume, I Heart Coloring, by Felicity French.

Merry Christmas, Hello Kitty! Grossett & Dunlap, $9.99, ages 3 and up.

64 pages of puzzles, mazes, seek and finds, and a pull-out poster all starring the global phenomenon Hello Kitty. Does it matter that the illustrations are Christmas-themed? Not in the least. If you have more than one Hello Kitty fan at home, better get two copies.

Harry Potter Coloring Book, Scholastic; $15.99, ages 9-14. (release date: November 10, 2015)

This coloring book cast a spell on me; filled with all the magical creatures and places from the film series, it will enchant Harry Potter buffs, too. The final 16 page spread includes fully-colored illustrations of emblems as well as photo stills from all the movies. Aparecium!