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Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Art of Clean Up: Life Made Neat and Tidy. By Ursus Wehrli, with photographs by Geri Born and Daniel Spehr. Chronicle Books, Raincoast. 2013. $16.95 ages

"The modern world
can get messy - but Swiss
artist Ursus Wehrli tidies
it up with humor and
design. THE ART OF
the world and its everyday
objects as neat, color-coded
rows of their component parts."

I have always said to my kids that no matter where they are, there will be someone who knows me. It was issued as a mild threat, but has always surprised them that it is often the truth. How can that person, at that moment, in that place, notice them and say hello? It's a lovely surprise to meet someone you know when you have no expectation that you will do so. That is exactly what happened to me when I first heard about this book.

I was in Winnipeg, which is 200 km from my home planning to have lunch with my son. We were in a bookstore (go figure!) when right in front of me was my friend, Kathy Atkin. And, she had a bag filled with books. Of course, she had to show me one of those books. She was pretty excited about it, and was taking a copy to the teacher librarians in her school division. I LOVE teacher librarians, and I LOVE finding out about new books. So, there I was scribbling down the title, the ISBN and the publisher. Who doesn't do that?

Then, I had to wait a bit until I had it in my own hands. Since then, I have ordered and given away numerous copies. It is amazing. Once you see it, you will know exactly which of your friends or students needs a copy!  It works for everyone. It is wordless until you get to the last page and learn a little about the amazing Ursus Wehrli and the process he used in creating the remarkable book. Believe me, you want to know more about him. So, be sure to see this TED talk:

You will immediately learn how much he loves things to be ordered. So, he does just that in this intriguing, orderly new book. He 'unjumbles' scenes that are not out-of-the-ordinary into their elements. He begins with the endpapers. I have pored over them time and again! I need someone who is much smarter to tell me why the fork becomes a spoon at the back. PLEASE!!!

Every page is a lesson in observation, and clear thinking. I found myself counting, and then even recounting...sometimes not able to count, or sort by counting. It doesn't matter. You will find yourself smiling, and laughing out loud at times. It is so ingenious and entertaining. You will want to 'read' it again...and then share it. That's the best part of all!

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