Book Review – Mix It Up by Hervé Tullet

Title: Mix It Up
Author: Hervé Tullet
Illustrator:  Hervé Tullet
Translator: Christopher Franceschelli
Format: Hardcover
Written: 2014
Published: 2014

After a child has learned to identify colors, where do you go next? Making colors! If your goal is to teach the very young about how secondary colors are made, and how to use their imagination to interact with the printed page, you cannot skip this book! Vibrant colors and hands-on prompts not only bring young readers right into the action, the text subtly cues them to imagine what might come next and then to act it out using the very book in their hands. Large splotches of paint merge together when the book is closed, or shaken, or a finger is rubbed across it. This makes for a uniquely immersive experience among literature for very young children. It’s a self-aware book that breaks the fourth wall and asks readers to manipulate and touch it. However, the effects of those touches and manipulations aren’t real, like many board books; they are illustrated. That means readers are jumping back and forth between real and imaginary. As the text guides them through it, they begin to conceptualize.

I read this to a two-and-a-half-year-old and watched as her confusion became conceptualization before my eyes. There is definitely real educational and developmental value in this book. When I picked it up, I thought it would help teach my daughter that yellow and blue make green, and it has, by giving an example of conceptual foundations for imagination. Yellow isn’t a real and tactile thing that she can easily mix with blue in her everyday experiences. Color is always represented by something, even if it is paint. (Or, in this case, illustrations of paint) The poetically graphic method this piece of children’s literature utilizes to convey its information about color theory is very complementary to the process of learning about color theory. It’s elegant, and I admire it. I would recommend this to parents, caretakers, and art teachers everywhere. 5/5

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