By Ekta R. Garg
October 15, 2014
Rated: Borrow it
The author of the popular children’s book Press Here has given children another reason to interact with books. Following a familiar layout, Mix It Up! introduces the idea of mixing colors and watching what happens when those colors get smeared, squished, and (what else?) pressed into one another. The result is a book that lives up to its predecessor with a minor hesitation.
For those unfamiliar with the first book, Press Here asks its readers to watch what happens through the pages when they touch fingers to various drops of color. Dots of paint multiply and divide, slide from one side of the page to another, and even grow, and all of these things happen only when the reader follows the book’s commands. Hailed by many media outlets as a book that would give the iPad a run for its money, author Herve Tullet encourages children to relate to Press Here in a way that delights and surprises its target audience.
Mix It Up! follows a similar format but with more intention. Kids will start the book with an invitation that says, “It’s that time again,” sure to induce grins. This time, however, the book starts with a gray dot and uses the dot as a call to action to invite other colors to join it on the page. Soon enough large primary color blots dominate the spread, but this time the blots really do look like paint blots. Tullet invites kids to rub one color onto the next, introducing and reinforcing the concepts of mixing primary colors to create secondary ones.
Tullet instructs readers to start by dabbing one color onto the next, but within several pages he encourages kids to smear the colors into one another. The result brings spreads similar to what children might create in introductory art classes as they explore paint for the first time. Like Press Here, Mix It Up! revels with minimal text in what the reader can bring to a book that always encourages imagination and whimsy like only the best teachers can.
The one minor hiccup comes when Tullet tells kids to close the book in an effort to “smoosh” colors together. Younger readers might fumble for a minute or two to find their page again when they’re done “smooshing,” causing a small interruption in the reading process. Because this isn’t a board book, it makes more sense from a tactile standpoint for readers to close the book. Pressing two pages together could possibly cause the pages to come out of the spine after repeated readings. But some readers will most certainly need an adult close to help them find the pages they’d just pressed to continue with the fun.
Despite the small logistical challenge, Mix It Up! will certainly encourage readers to come to books with an active mindset. Subtle reminders, like fingerprints and paint smudges at the edges of the pages reinforce that mindset. The book does what the best books always do: it offers readers a chance to participate in the discovery process of a good story.
I recommend Mix It Up! for all children who enjoy reading and who expect their books to delight and amaze them.