Mix it Up! And let the wonder in

posted in: Herve Tullet | 9

When M was about 9 months old she was sat in a bath and became transfixed by the steady trickle of water coming from the tap. Time and time again she tried to grab the stream of water and was utterly puzzled: Why wasn’t it possible to hold onto the solid-appearing rod of glinting water? I had a moment of delight and clarity as I watched M explore this ‘illusion’. As an adult I of course know a liquid cannot be held onto like a solid can, but when and how had I learned this? Here were M learning it right in front of my eyes and it felt like a moment of brilliant revelation, an instant when one of the secrets of how the world works was revealed.

mix-it-up_9781452137353_350HervĂ© Tullet‘s Mix it Up! allows us all to experience the same thrill of discovery, the buzz that comes from a lightbulb moment; it takes us back to the very bare bones of colour theory and shows us magic at our own fingertips. That mixing yellow and blue should give us a total different colour… well that’s pretty cool if you think about it.

Listeners and readers are invited into a wide open, imaginative space where their physical interaction with the book (tipping it, tapping it, slamming it shut) has the power to transform the pages. On one level we know it is an illusion, but the way the book addresses us directly and apparently responds to our commands instils a thrilling sense of both powerfulness and playfulness.

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This books shows paint as your friend and as such is a fabulous doorway into the world of art.

This book makes scientists of its readers and listeners, asking the to predict what is going to happen and then making it so.

Mix it Up!‘s simplicity is deceptive and will be enjoyed by older children and playful adults, even if they’ve long since learned all they technically need to know about primary and secondary colours. A worthy follow-up to Press Here, this unadorned, uncomplicated book will cast a spell over you and allow you to see again some of the wonder around you.

Inspired by the page in Tullet’s book which shows a hand amongst paint-covered fingerprints we draw around our hands and cut out hand templates. These we temporarily stuck to a sheet of card (using masking tape).

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Next we went wild with finger painting, starting with three bowls of primary colours (soaked into sponges so that the paint stuck to our fingers more evenly)…

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…before mixing the primary colours to make secondary colours.

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When the paper was full of prints I then carefully removed the hand templates to leave white shadows.

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We used the now-covered-in-fingerprints hand templates to stick on a second sheet of white paper, creating an “opposite” image to the hand shadows.
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Both are now up on the walls in the girls’ room. I think they make very effective pieces of art but perhaps more importantly, the process was hugely enjoyable.

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Whilst we painted we listened to:

  • Mix It Up by The Marvelettes
  • This Too Shall Pass by OK Go – for the playfulness and final scenes with paint I think Tullet would approve of.
  • Mixing Up by Yo Gabba Gabba!


  • Other activities which would go well with reading Mix it Up! include:

  • Using sweet wrappers to change the way you view the world (and learn about mixing colours as you go) – using this tutorial from Mylittle3andme.
  • Adding shaving foam into the mix to give mixing colours a different sensory slant – using this tutorial from Nurture Store.
  • Combining science and colour mixing, by getting coloured water to move from two cups to third, all by itself – using this tutorial on All for Kids.


  • What do you take for granted but have recently see with new eyes?

    Disclosure: A free review copy of Mix it Up! was sent to me by the publishers.

    9 Responses

    1. rosalyn phillips

      Now I’ll buy the book! Loved the music, and what creative ideas! Thank you.

    2. Julia Shelley

      Hi
      Such a clever book which reminded me of the brilliant Richard Scarry, I still love messing around with paint, can anyone remember the title of the RS book teaching about colour through mixing spilt paint pots? I’ve never forgotten the sight of colours mixing and changing, it seemed like magic.
      Thanks Julia

      • Hi Julia, I’ll ask around about the Richard Scarry book and see if I can find you the answer.

    3. We love this book and now I’ve got a great activity to try with it. It really brings an already great book to life. Thanks!
      Mrs Brown recently posted..Thank You, Octopus by Darren Farrell

    4. I’m a huge fan of Press Here but haven’t seen Mix It Up – it’s definitely going on the wishlist. I love your handprint idea 🙂
      Catherine recently posted..Ask an author – Nicola Davies (plus giveaway)

    5. Catherine – i think the hand print project could be such a lovely keepsake actually – featuring the hands of everyone in the family. Would be great to do at a big family gathering so you got grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins too
      Zoe recently posted..Mix it Up! And let the wonder in

    6. What stunning artwork you produced – and I’m sure in some years’ time it will become very precious as a record of small hands. I have framed on my wall a much less artistic ‘splodge’ of purple paint with hand and foot prints from when my kids, now almost taller than me, spilled a pot of paint on our terrace in Rome – I managed to contain my horror and instead made them strip off, rolled out a huge strip of paper and made them use all the paint up! I’m so glad I did – it brings back so many memories now.

    7. […] is no picture book I’m more excited about than Herve Tullet’s Mix It Up and Playing by the Book has a great art activity to go with […]

    8. […] by the Book used the dots and hands at the beginning of the book to make really cool handprint art. This one would be amazing for a […]

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