Niko Draws a Feeling

Niko Draws a Feeling, written by Bob Raczka and beautifully illustrated by Simone Shin.

How much of why I love this book is because I’m an artist?

Because as an artist I have felt dear Niko’s frustration watching blank faces staring at my masterpieces?

Well… perhaps a lot of it. But Niko Draws a Feeling is also an absolutely gorgeously illustrated and beautifully written story about personal artistic expression.

Niko is a little boy who loves, loves, LOVES to draw. He takes his box of colored pencils and sketch pad with him everywhere he goes to draw the things that inspire him. The mama robin in her nest, the warm sun. Niko finds beauty and subject matter everywhere and it makes him very happy.

However, when Niko shares his artwork with others he is left deflated. Niko doesn’t draw literally what he ‘sees’. He draws what he feels, or hears, or experiences. He draws his interpretations rather than recognizable imagery and this leaves his audience confused and less than encouraging.

“What is it?” his mom would ask.

“It’s the warm of the sun on my face,” Niko would answer.

“It’s not the sun. It’s the warm.”

Niko shows his drawings of the “ring-a-ling” of the ice cream truck to his friends, who “don’t get it”.

The “robin’s hard work” building her nest, but the teacher doesn’t see a nest.

Niko feels sad and lost until he meets a friend who sees the world as Niko does. She immediately responds to Niko’s drawings of feelings and creativity.

This is a beautiful and inspirational story about being a creative. Finding your own interpretation and inspiration and having the courage to express and share that as a creation. Art is not simply rendering an object. Art is communicating a message in the unique way that only you can. This story will be encouraging to children who feel that they might not fit in, or see things like everyone else does. I hope so, anyway. And I hope it gives fragile young egos the confidence to be persistent, and to continue to share their art like Niko does.

Happy Spring!!!!


Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Jennifer is the illustrator and author of several acclaimed picture books. Most recently is Always by My Side, 'A Stuffie Story', which she wrote and illustrated. She also is both the author and illustrator of Playing Possum, and Blue Ethel. Jennifer illustrated Gondra’s Treasure, written by Newbery award winner Linda Sue Park. As well as, Sometimes You Fly, by Newbery medalist, Katherine Applegate. She illustrated Yaks Yak, Animal Word Pairs by Linda Sue Park, The Inventor's Secret, What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford, by Suzanne Slade, Rabbi Benjamin's Buttons, by Alice B. McGinty, and The Adventures of a South Pole Pig, by Chris Kurtz.


  1. It’s always been inspiring to me to see children respond to messages like this; they get it! Looks like a winner.

  2. This sounds like a wonderful book for creatives of all ages. Can’t wait to read it!

  3. Nice-a Harold and the Purple Crayon for the more abstract child. I’ll look for it.

  4. Love this concept, empowering kids who interpret things in their own way, literally coloring outside the lines. Can’t wait to see this!

    • Hi, Jill! I think this book definitely brings a slightly different concept to the forefront. Also, I think it’s done in a slightly unexpected way. As a reader, I found myself surprised when Niko’s friends didn’t ‘get’ his artwork. I thought that was very well done.

  5. Oh my goodness – such inspiring art. I also love the text layout. Definitely picking this one up.

  6. This looks so inspiring, Jennifer–for grown-ups too! Wonderful!

  7. Our library offers free art classes to children ages 5-13 each summer free of charge. This will fit right in with that program!

  8. This looks fantastic. I can’t wait to find it!

  9. What a wonderful concept -drawing feelings – beautiful! I’ll be looking for this winner!

  10. I think many of us (even those of us who aren’t artists) have felt that “blank stare” when it comes to our creative work. I’m sure both kids and adults will find the truth and heart of this story. Thanks for sharing!

    • Great point, Judy! I think you are so right that this book will resound with anyone who has ever expressed an idea that was shot down or discouraged (and that’s probably all of us?). It takes such courage to share ideas. Thank you for your comment and visiting today!

  11. This book is like a breath of fresh air! And I get it!

  12. My son’s artistic style is similar to Niko’s – can’t wait to check this out!

  13. This is so awesome! My granddaughter is 6 and has Down syndrome, and she draws this way – intuitively and creatively. I’ll look at her drawings and see scribbles and odd shapes. Then when she explains what it is she has drawn, I get it!!
    Thanks for sharing!

  14. Beautiful – this belongs in every art class.

  15. Sounds like a lovely story about people viewing things differently. I think Allison expresses many of her feelings through her art & appreciate you recognizing that about her. Thanks for sharing this review.

  16. I love this book!! Thanks so much for sharing!

  17. What a fantastic concept to convey to kids and adults alike. I can’t wait to check this one out. Thanks for sharing!

  18. I’ll have to look for this one. There seem to be a group of picture books focused on being creative coming out. I liked The Book of Mistakes, too. Another one, I thought was a bit too abstract. I like having several different examples of conveying an idea.

    • Great point, Mary about some concepts being too abstract for a child. This one I think works well because kids will personally relate to Niko and how being misunderstood makes him feel. Thank you so much for visiting and commenting! Hope you like the book!

  19. What a marvelous book. I’m going to pass this post onto my daughter who teaches art to children and is always looking for ways to encourage individual creativity. Thanks, Jennifer.

  20. Love this book. Thanks for presenting it. Purchased for my son, also an artist (adult).

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