Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Doodle Cook

So what do you get for a boy who loves to cook and read but hates to draw or paint?

Hervé Tullet's 'Doodle Cook' that's what.

Remember these sculptures from the Pop-up festival?
Hervé Tullet did them in collaboration with local school children. They were sooo priddy.

I wish I'd discovered his GENIUS drawing books for my boys earlier in their non-drawing careers. Bill is now out of his non-drawing and painting phase and Really Quite Into It but he was held back for years through I think, impatience at his own lack of ability and a streak of perfectionism. For years he would only draw monsters not people; after all it didn't matter if monsters went a bit wrong looking.

Eddie will not even draw shonky monsters without inappropriately severe maternal pressure. His non-drawing stance is almost a religious vow. In a week where all the little girls in his class are coming in daily with elaborate thank you cards adorned with smiling princesses, unicorns, flowers and the like, I have had to bribe him with substantial quantities of chocolate to get him to even put a line on a piece of paper.

And yet...and yet...he DOES love to cook, so I fair leaped upon 'Doodle Cook' when I saw it. Would the temptation to make Zigzag Soup or Crayon Tartare provide a breakthrough?

Oh it's a faberoonie book. Each page offers instructions to make a different dish faced by a generous sized empty plate. Follow the step by step recipe and you too can produce your own perfect Hervé abstract. It's fairly specific in its demands which some may disapprove of, but for my frozen-in-the-spotlight-of-a bare-piece-of-paper child specific is GOOD. Eddie loves a list of instructions; that's his home turf. (his laminated 'shoe reminder card': 1. undo straps, 2. pull out tongue to make space, 3. put in foot and push heel down 4. do up straps and repeat with other foot revolutionised our school run earlier in the year).

It would be too much to say that he's learned to embrace the pen and crayon as yet but together we've 'cooked' a couple of pages in a relaxed and happy way which is a massive step forward. I, and more importantly he, begin to see a future that might involve artwork that isn't exclusively orange crayon on orange paper.

And I'm sure his teachers will love a slice of 'triangle cake' to eat whilst they admire the stack of perfect princesses...

'Doodle Cook' Hervé Tullet, pub. Phaidon isbn 978-0-7148-6070-1


  1. Doodle cook was one of the activity books I got for my girls last summer holidays and it was a huge hit - so glad to see your family are enjoying it too. For my reluctant (then) drawer, Tullet's Scribble book was a breakthrough - it "allowed" her just to make a mess, be furious and physical, rather than neat and inside the lines, and she loved that freedom and excitement.

    1. He's a clever man that Tullet. I may well invest in the scribble book too- E is terribly tentative in all his work on paper and a bit of 'furious physicality' would be just the ticket.

  2. Eddie is not alone in his dislike of drawing and yes you are right it is all down to his desire for perfection. What a great way to help and vital too as many gifted children have a deep seated hatred and fear of failure in his mind he can draw but when his efforts do not mat h his minds eye then that means he is a failure hence his refusal. Sorry spelling going haywire on phone

    1. That was clearly the thought processes at work with Bill but Eddie seems more straightforwardly uninterested in the process. He just can't see the point and he's only ever prepared to do something he sees the point of- eg. make a chocolate cake to have a chocolate cake to eat! I'm hoping it will be like the other phases in his life- he will suddenly decide he wants to do it and then will do it to the exclusion of everything else until he can-but we may be waiting a while...