The Book of Mistakes – Showing No Telling in a Picture Book

It started with what the artist believed to be a poorly drawn eye.

And the mistakes grew–one by one–

And the “…big space between the ground and the bottom of the girl’s shoe–was a little bit of a mistake, too,”


“But the roller skates? Those were definitely not a mistake.”

In her precious picture book The Book of Mistakes, Corinna Luyken exemplifies the creative process and how creating is usually rife with mistakes. In another post, I discussed how fear of making mistakes causes perfectionism, which often leads to Writer’s Block:

Perfectionism Is A Creativity Killer – Let’s Allow Ourselves to Create Imperfectly

But in The Book of Mistakes, we see how art itself is also created via the process of making mistakes. When the artist allows one mistake to lead to another, she is allowing the angels to take over, when Intuition creates for the artist:

Learning to Paint and to Write by Intuition

In The Book of Mistakes, mark by mark–mistake by mistake–the girl moves toward paradise,

Early in her journey, she picks up a battalion of balloons. And the girl and her battalion of balloons fill the dark tree with light and magic.

Wow! What a Perfect Example of Showing and Not Telling. A picture is definitely worth 1,000 words in A Book of Mistakes. I cannot imagine any amount of words that could have said more than this perfect picture book– one with very few words at all.

Mark by Mark or as Anne Lamott would say, Bird by Bird, art is born–and ultimately a picture book springs out of the process.

The illustrations for this book are magical, but more importantly, I love the way that Corinna Luyken delivers the more subtle point–the point that is shown and not told–“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”