a review in which i, eventually, draw franklin pierce.
the other day, i was going through my bookshelves, trying to find a good book to use as my may project, and i found this. unfortunately, there are only 10 drawings in it, so it is far too short to be of any use for a project, but i figured i might as well give it a whirl for a night.
and, man, is it a shitty book.
i remember when i bought this, back when my franklin pierce obsession first began. i had to order it into the store, because for some reason barnes and noble didn’t think it was crowd-pleasing enough to have as a modeled title. and it was like 25 dollars for this 32 page book (counting index and all that), but at the time, i had more disposable income to fritter away on novelty laffs, and it was totally worth it.
until i actually tried to use it.
i can’t imagine any kid having fun or success with this book. i mean, obviously they will be thrilled for the opportunity to learn all about franklin pierce’s many triumphs in education:
When he was 12 years old, he was sent to high school at nearby Hancock Academy. Franklin did not like going to class, and he ran away from Hancock. His father sent him right back.
In 1820, when Pierce was 15, he entered Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine…At college Pierce was outgoing and popular. Instead of studying he spent a lot of time hunting, fishing, and walking in the woods with his friends. This put him at the bottom of his class at the end of his second year.
and his military prowess:
Pierce immediately signed up for duty and was soon promoted, or moved up, to brigadier general. On August 19, 1846, just as Pierce was leading a charge toward Mexican fire, his horse stumbled and fell on top of him, wounding his knee. He passed out, leaving his men to fight without him. The next day at the Battle of Churubusco, he twisted his already wounded knee and fainted from the pain. Despite his bad luck, Pierce did manage to fight in some battles before Mexico surrendered in September 1848, and he was praised for his leadership.
and the fun of drawing pictures of all the things dear to him, like … this
but i feel like this book is just setting kids up for failure, and you don’t want to be using “failure” and “franklin pierce” in the same sentence. after all, “But for slavery, and the questions growing out of it, [Franklin Pierce’s] administration would have passed into history as one of the most successful in our national life.”
is very misleading.
i’m sure you can use some of those shapes to make these drawings, but it’s pretty hard to locate them in the journey from this:
and yes, there are six steps in-between that i have omitted, but i assure you – the path from a to b in all ten of these drawings is paved with lies. here’s one from start to finish:
and even though that one claims to be a hard one, they’re all basically the same in terms of how weak the actual instructions are.
they are neither clear or fair.
“a lot of squiggly lines?”
“the many vertical lines?”
“add as much detail as you like?”
that’s just not really helpful for kids. or anyone.
i also take issue with the appropriateness of some of the choices. after being informed:
In May 1856, an angry mob of slavery supporters set fire to Lawrence, Kansas, where many antislavery settlers lived. The burning town is shown here. To get even for the attack, antislavery men killed five slavery supporters in Pottawatomie Creek.
these are some steps from the accompanying exercise:
i mean, why not just draw all the dead bodies while we’re at it?
equally inappropriate is having a kid draw some japanese junk. that’s dirrrrty!
while i appreciate all the positive affirmations at the ends of these ‘lessons’
i can’t help but feel they’re a bit sarcastic, because ain’t no kid going to come up with that end result based on the instructions provided.
and now i will draw franklin pierce:
but have i, though? have i really?
whatever. all i know is that it’s a lot more fun to draw franklin pierce’s animal army than to follow directions
sean tried to teach me art again, but even he couldn’t make this book work.
so, as glad as i am to have this book as part of my collection, i do not think it is the best book on the market to learn how to draw the life and times of america’s favorite president.