I Gotta Draw Book Poster Image

I Gotta Draw



Triumphant tale of artistic misfit and creative teacher.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Shows the tools an artist uses -- pencil, chalk, paints. Shows what a classroom setting is like, with tests, homework papers, and report cards. Several fun puns in this dog-and-cat world, from canine characters Charlie Muttnik and Principal Bowser to the space alien Charlie draws: E.T.T., for Extra-Terrestrial Terrier.

Positive messages

Suggests that kids should try hard in school, even if they learn differently than most of the kids. Shows that a good teacher can bring out the best in a student who learns differently than most of his classmates. Implies that a person should follow his or her passion, despite feeling like a misfit.

Positive role models

Charlie loves to draw and never stops pursuing his passion for art. His home is crowded and busy, but his parents are concerned, loving, and ultimately supportive. His feline teacher is a fantatsic role model, because she finds a way to help Charlie learn while doing what he loves: drawing.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that I Gotta Draw portrays a misfit student (a dog) who loves to draw but isn't doing well in school -- until an understanding and clever new teacher (a cat) finds a way to reach him and teach him by letting him draw as he learns. This is a great book for kids who feel like others don't understand their passion or talent and for kids who care more about art than some of the other things that are more validated by classmates, teachers, and family members. The teacher in the book is a model of individualized instruction who's not willing to accept failure from a student who has trouble conforming. 

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What's the story?

Charlie Muttnik loves to draw, and that's all he cares about doing. He draws on his spelling papers, doodles on his math problems, and draws pictures for homework assignments instead of writing words. After he gets a bad report card, his understanding teacher finds a way to help him learn as he draws.

Is it any good?


Without being heavy-handed, I GOTTA DRAW conveys a great message about learning differences. It also celebrates a teacher who can think outside the box and bring out the best in her students. Bruce Degen, illustrator of the Magic School Bus series, shows what it feels like to be an artistic kid who's saved from academic failure by an insightful, creative teacher who figures out how to help him learn while using his skill as an artist.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what special passions or talents they have. What do you like doing more than anything else? What special talents do you have? 

  • Does having the characters be dogs and cats make the story more fun than if they were human? 

  • Does Charlie's teacher seem like any teachers you've had? 

Book details

Author:Bruce Degen
Illustrator:Bruce Degen
Genre:Picture Book
Topics:Arts and dance, Brothers and sisters, Cats, dogs, and mice
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:June 5, 2012
Number of pages:40
Publisher's recommended age(s):5 - 8
Available on:Hardback

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