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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002


  • Thursday, Friday10 am-3 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 4 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm

Closed Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday

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Picture Books We Love

Get Creative with 5 Messy Art Books

Keri Smith, author of Mess and Wreck this Journal, visited us a few weeks ago and led an event in the Art Studio entitled Mess: Art Made by Accident.  The project was inspired by her book Mess: The Manual of Accidents and Mistakes (Perigree, 201), a handbook exploring fun (and of course, messy) ways to be creative and crafty. You can imagine what fun everyone had experimenting with shredded paper, drip painting, and glue.

We love that Keri Smith’s books encourage freehand art exploration and teach artists that accidents and experimentation can yield amazing and unexpected results. Here are more of the Shop’s favorite books that encourage you to rip the page, spill the paint, and get messy!

Paper Play by Lydia Crook (Running Press Kids, 2014)

Lydia Crook reminds us that paper is more than just a flat surface, encouraging readers to ‘Roll it. Rip it. Fold it. Snip it!’ The book instructs readers to turn its pages into everything from fortune tellers to magic tricks to paper beads. You’ll never look at paper the same way again!

Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors by Rachelle Doorley (Roost Books, 2014)

This title was brought to our attention by The Carle’s resident Art Educator, who uses it for programs at the Museum and at home! It offers 55 ideas for at-home projects that will encourage children’s natural tendencies to experiment, play, and tinker. This includes anything from making slime and other creative ‘concoctions’ to building ramps and ropes-and-pulleys. (It also includes handy tips for clean-up.) A must-have for every household!

The Big Messy Art Book by MaryAnn F. Kohl (Gryphon House, 2000)

This book’s simple instructions and diagrams make it the perfect book to read along with children as you brainstorm your next exciting art adventure. Using mostly materials you already have at home, such as newspapers, sponges, and old boxes, children can create art in new and unusual ways. My personal favorite is the ‘Stop, Drop, and Paint’ project: wrap the artist in bubble wrap, cover the bubble wrap in paint, and roll around to create awesome bubble prints!

The Game of Sculpture by Hervé Tullet (Phaidon Press, 2012)

The author of many interactive books, such as Press Here, The Game of Shadows, and The Game of Let’s Go, has created a book that you can transform into your very own masterpiece! Pop out the painted shapes and fit them together using the ready-made slots and holes. You can even decorate your sculpture with outside objects to make it truly unique. There is no right or wrong way to play the game, and the colorful pieces and countless combinations will ensure hours of fun.

Rip the Page! Adventures in Creative Writing by Karen Benke (Roost Books, 2010)

For those artists who paint pictures with words, this writing guide is filled with innovative experiments designed to get the creative juices flowing. Between chapters--which share important literary tools and offer advice from authors like Lemony Snicket and Annie Barrows--are tearaway sheets compelling the reader to ‘Rip the Page!’  These pages encourage writers to turn their writing into paper airplanescut their words into interesting shapes, scribble out an angry letter and then destroy it --all in the name of creativity.

What books do you use when you want to get messy?

Post by Sylvia Peterson.


Thursday, July 7, 2014 - 10:36 am
Might have to pick up the Sculpture game for our upcoming vacation!

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