Posted September 3, 2013 by Amy in Books

Outside the Lines (Family Fiends) Review

outside the lines coloring book
outside the lines coloring book

At least it’s not Dora…

If you’re a parent, then chances are you have dozens of coloring books lying around the house. Chances are also good that said coloring books are a mixture of generic characters (bears, bunnies) and licensed stuff like Disney Princess or Batman. While most kids certainly enjoy coloring their favorite television show or adorable animal, one can’t help but wish for something more. In a world where it seems like everything offers some sort of educational value that is meant to shape kids into young scholars, why aren’t teaching kids to think outside the box and embrace their creative sides in regards to coloring as well?

Outside the Lines: An Artists’ Coloring Book For Giant Imaginations seeks to do just that by handing kids (or adults!) an entirely different kind of coloring book. Featuring a variety of offerings from over one hundred different artists, this is not your average coloring book. The cover offers a glimpse of the types of images that you’ll be coloring inside, colored in on the left and left black and white on the right, and the stark contrast between the two is quite eye catching from the start. The pages inside are made of a thick paper that is ideal for this type of thing, as your colors won’t run through the pages. Better yet, each drawing gets its own page, with the back of it blank save for a credit to the artist. This makes for easier coloring and no worries about even very leaky markers, although it does make it more difficult to color together and lefties like myself will find their hands forever in the binding. The one design per page setup also makes it easier to simply tear out your current artwork though, making sharing and displaying any easy task.

Outside the Lines is a generously sized book that really shows the variety that this collection of artists has to offer. From a bucolic image of a young girl riding a giraffe through a field of flowers, to a page filled with one eyed blob creatures, to a dog with a pizza face, these are drawing that are sure to catch attention, simply because they aren’t the norm. The images range from simple to complex, basic to abstract, and there really is something for everyone included. As I like to get a kids’ eye view of things, I had my four, seven, and nine year olds give the book a try, and they had just as much fun paging through the different types of drawings as they did coloring it.

My biggest problem with Outside the Lines is that some of the images are just not conducive to being colored. I’m all for introducing kids to art in a different way, but if you give them a coloring book, they are going to expect to be able to color all of it. In some cases, some of the images are just tough to figure out, having various lines and pieces, or just a page full of dots smushed together, and I suppose part of the fun could be thinking outside the box and trying to find a way to color it that makes sense to you. Others though, simply defy logic. For instance, in the center of the book, you will find a black page. This is a piece of “art” that is meant to be colored, but it is just a black page. And the very next page following it is just black with a white border (and at least you could have fun coloring the border, but I find it a real stretch to call that a coloring page). I am not completely oblivious to the idea that it could be a statement – but if your goal is to introduce and engage kids with a different kind of art, confusing them isn’t the way to go about it. The majority of images are able to be colored, and will get kids thinking of art in a new way. Although the image of a topless girl with a shadow figure inserting his hand into her abdomen creeped my daughter out a bit, for the most part the kids reacted very favorable to the book, as well as the idea behind it.

Outside the Lines is a different kind of coloring book. Using the art of over one hundred different artists, it introduces kids to a wide range of artwork that will get them thinking outside the box. While a few of the images seem a little off the mark for the intended audience, for the most part it is a great idea that is presented with a variety and quality of construction that will keep kids coming back for more.


U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)