Zoom meets Beautiful Oops! in this memorable picture book debut about the creative process, and the way in which “mistakes” can blossom into inspiration
One eye was bigger than the other. That was a mistake. The weird frog-cat-cow thing? It made an excellent bush. And the inky smudges… they look as if they were always meant to be leaves floating gently across the sky.
As one artist incorporates accidental splotches, spots, and misshapen things into her art, she transforms her piece in quirky and unexpected ways, taking readers on a journey through her process. Told in minimal, playful text, this story shows readers that even the biggest “mistakes” can be the source of the brightest ideas—and that, at the end of the day, we are all works in progress, too.
Fans of Peter Reynolds’s Ish and Patrick McDonnell’s A Perfectly Messed-Up Story will love the funny, poignant, completely unique storytelling of The Book of Mistakes. And, like Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, it makes the perfect graduation gift, encouraging readers to have a positive outlook as they learn to face life’s obstacles.
I would buy this book just for the illustrations, but the spare text makes it truly magical. With little text on each page, there is plenty of space for thinking about the illustrations and how things are working out, or not, before the commentary arrives, even opportunity to anticipate what the illustrator might do to fix the ‘mistakes’. This book, with its gentle and quirky illustrations, illuminates many ways in which missteps may be made magical and lead to unforeseen inspiration—genius even.
Corinna Luyken is the author-illustrator of THE BOOK OF MISTAKES, which received four starred reviews and has been praised by Entertainment Weekly, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, and more. She also illustrated ADRIAN SIMCOX DOES NOT HAVE A HORSE, written by Marcy Campbell. And is she the author-illustrator of the forthcoming MY HEART, which will be released January 8, 2019. She lives in Olympia, WA with her husband, daughter, and two cats.
What was your inspiration for THE BOOK OF MISTAKES?
It started with a series of mistakes.
For years I drew with pens because I liked the fluid feel of ink on paper. I liked how, with pen, a line can take on a life of its own. But often that life would lead to shapes and marks I hadn’t intended and couldn’t erase. Because I loved to draw—and loved to draw with ink—I learned to deal with those accidents. If I messed up something in a face, I’d add glasses. If I didn’t like the way I’d drawn a hand, I might add gloves. And somewhere along the way I learned to enjoy how each mistake forced me to find a new way of looking at the world. And I began to wonder if celebrating mistakes was something that could be taught.
In my years working as both a teaching assistant and artist in residence in elementary schools, I started to notice a pattern. In every class there would be one or two kids who, within minutes of starting to draw, were raising their hand asking for another piece of paper. They didn’t like what they were seeing. They wanted to start over. They wanted to make it perfect. It became my job to help them see the possibility in that mistake, to see how they could keep going and transform their drawing or painting into something that they still might love.
This all came home for me when my daughter was four years old. At that age she loved everything she drew. She didn’t see mistakes, only pattern and line and color and texture. And she LOVED to draw. Then one day, while drawing, she burst into tears and threw her paper on the ground. She had made a mistake. She couldn’t fix it. And it broke my heart. Not yet, I remember thinking. Not her. Not already. Not now.
So I wrote this book. For her. For them. For me. For anyone who has ever made a mistake.
What do you hope readers will take away from The Book of Mistakes?
I believe the best books leave room for each reader to have their own experience. I really don’t want to tell anyone what that should be. That said, for me, this book is about perception. And possibility.
And maybe some questions—How do you see yourself? How do you see the world? What do you see when you look at other people— do you see their imperfections, their mistakes? Do you see their possibility? Can you see both, simultaneously?
And behind those questions, other questions— How do we change how we see? How do we move from the mistake into a place where transformation can happen? How do we learn to see potential? How do we access a vision for what could come next?
And finally— can that change in perception be taught? I think that is a very interesting question!