Unless you’ve been living in a marker-less world, you’re probably well aware of the revolution that’s been going down in the realm of coloring books. The white-and-black pages that used to be targeted just to kids have proven to be a healthy form of relaxation and meditation for adults. I even tried it for a week and I can confidently attest to those claims.
Like any product that’s in demand, the usually-sparse selection of coloring books has quadrupled (note: I can’t confirm those calculations but just take my word for it, okay?). What used to occupy a small space in the children’s section now has stand-alone displays at the forefront of major bookstores. With so many options to choose from, we figured we should put some of them to the test.
First up: Just Add Color: Circus with artwork by Sarah Walsh. Walsh is a Kansas City-based artist and illustrator who also happened to make this AMAZING man bun illustration at Re:Make (our annual creativity conference).
After a quick flip through the book, you’re instantly taken back to the circus’ golden era. You know, before they started getting set up in the middle of JC Penney parking lots. You’ll find illustrations of clowns, tattooed men, animals riding unicycles and even a monkey-mermaid hybrid ready for you to work your marker magic on.
I was most drawn to the pages featuring illustrations of a two-headed lady and a very regal looking furry-faced man. I’m pretty loyal to my uber fancy set of Crayola markers which I pulled out to get started. While using these with my Enchanted Forest coloring book, I struggled sometimes to get in the super fine details but that wasn’t a problem here.
I mostly colored while binge-watching The Great British Baking Show (seriously, Netflix it). The illustrations were simple enough that they didn’t require ALL of my attention, which was nice when I didn’t feel like fully committing to one activity or the other (because I’m a millennial and needs to always be doing two things at once, okayyy?).
What a 4-Year-Old Thought
All this being said, I’m a 24-year-old woman with decent hand-eye coordination… sometimes. I wanted to bring things back to the coloring book’s OG customer to see what they thought about this pick. So I handed the book off to 4-year-old Frankie (who also was our star model for some seriously adorable kids costumes) to see what she thought.
Hi Frankie! What was your favorite page to color in this book?!
Frankie: I liked the mermaids, stars, peacock girls, flowers and blueberries.
Did you think was it hard to stay in the lines?
Frankie: Yes. It was hard to stay in the lines because there are SOOO many.
If you had to tell your friend whether this coloring book was REALLY hard, kind of hard or super easy what would you say?
Frankie: Kinda hard because I am too little to do grown-up things. This feels like a grown-up coloring book.
What would your dream coloring book page look like?
Frankie: Something with girls, mermaids and princesses!
The Nitty Gritty
Now, onto the things that you might not think about but can really make all the difference. The pages are thick so you won’t have to worry about bleeding. They’re also one-sided so if you’re really proud of one drawing you’ve colored in you don’t have to sacrifice the other side if you want to frame it. Speaking of framing, it also comes with perforated pages so you can pull out your favorites easily.
The Coloring Book Report Card
– Illustrations: 8/10
– Level of Difficulty: 5/10
– Kid Friendliness: 6/10
– Practical Features (page thickness, book’s ability to lay flat, etc.): 10/10
– Portability: 7/10
What is your favorite coloring book at the moment? Share with us in the comments below.