Aquadoodle makes about one zillion versions of its simple but delightful toy: A mat you can draw on with plain water. I have always thought my kids would enjoy one, so I was excited to get a review sample.

The version I received, the Draw 'N Doodle, has little images around the border showing step-by-step how to sketch a house or other little drawings. Other than that, it appears to be just the same as any other Aquadoodle out there. Some of them are character licensed, others come with stampers and stuff.

This one comes with just one plastic pen, which you fill with water. The kids draw on the mat, which darkens where it is wet, and after awhile it dries and they can start over again.

As I expected, my kids loved it. To my surprise, my 4-year-old even followed the instructions on the border and tried to recreate some of the sample drawings. Both kids enjoyed not just drawing with the pen but dumping cups of water and using eyedroppers on the mat.

Which is a good thing, because at first the fact that it had only one pen was a pretty big problem. You see, in the photo, how one kid is drawing and the other kid is lying there, smiling? That is an accurate depiction of my kids using the toy, only replace "smiling" with "screaming, pulling hair." If you have more than one child, I would advise either buying one of the sets that comes with multiple pens/stampers/etc. or setting them up with wet sponges, Q-tips, paintbrushes or whatever from the get-go. My girls were both trying to use the one pen, and it first it got pretty rough-and-tumble.

After they'd each gotten a chance, however, they did pretty well at taking turns. Also, you can buy extra pens and other accessories, but not at a price I'd be willing to pay.

This version of the Aquadoodle provides a ribbon to keep it closed when rolled up, and an elastic loop to hold the pen. Well, I am not that good at rolling and folding things, so I wasn't too surprised that I haven't been able to roll it into a size small enough to tie the short lengths of ribbon attached. That's not a disaster -- I just folded it and stuck it between a couple bins on a shelf.

Overall, Aquadoodle is not exactly a wonder of technology -- you can achieve a similar effect by painting with water and paintbrushes on the sidewalk -- but it entertains kids and keeps them interested for good stretches. And, as the company promises, it is mess-free. This would be a good toy to roll up and put in the car for a trip to grandma's.