cover image The Book of Mistakes

The Book of Mistakes

Corinna Luyken. Dial, $17.99 (56p) ISBN 978-0-7352-2792-7

Almost any child knows the feeling: one errant mark or smudge, and an in-progress drawing or painting is as good as ruined. Not so, says Luyken, in a children’s book debut that’s as candid as it is encouraging. The pages are virtually blank, at first, and readers watch as a character takes shape: a girl’s round head appears, traced in pencil, but one of her large, dark eyes winds up noticeably larger than the other. “Making the other eye even bigger was another mistake,” Luyken admits as the problem seems to get worse. “But the glasses—they were a good idea.” Additional “mistakes” mount: the girl winds up with an overlong neck and an odd “frog-cat-cow thing” makes an appearance, but Luyken finds a way to turn each one into a success by changing direction or perspective: “The second frog-cat-cow thing made a very nice rock,” she writes after inking it in. The idea of setbacks being opportunities in disguise is no stranger to picture book pages, but rarely has it been illuminated with such style, imagination, and compassion. Ages 4–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Apr.)