book report: The Art of Clean Up

Last year's kindergarten kids were an amazing group of human beings.

They had delightful quirks, loved words and language, made me laugh, were kind to each other, were Pokemon mad, needed visual intrigue ... so many qualities that made us a community that loved each other.

Cleaning up was not one of those qualities.

So when I saw this book at an early childhood workshop, I figured it would be great for our class. 

We could finally get on the same page about clean up - find some motivation - it would be great. 

I bought the book without really looking at it.

It wasn't about cleaning up at all.  It was not going to help our classroom be neat and tidy - whatever the subtitle.

I'm still glad I bought it. 

The Art of Clean Up:  Life Made Neat and Tidy
created by: Ursus Wehrli
published by: Chronicle Books (2013)
brain intriguing photography
5 - adult

It does encourage us to see every day objects in a different way.  

In a deconstructed way.  

The modern world can get messy .... Tapping into the desire for organization and the insanity of über-order, Wehrli humorously categorizes everyday objects and situations by color, size, and shape. He arranges alphabet soup into alphabetical order, sorts the night sky by star size, and aligns sunbathers' accoutrements—all captured in bright photographs sure to astonish even the pickiest of neat freaks.  (Goodreads)

I enjoyed the quirky humour of the book (my favourite is inside the front and back covers - but you will just have to acquire the book yourself to explore them!).

My (19 year old) son said that he looked through a few pages, and had to "close it fast".  A little too decontructivist for him!

Wehrli chooses a wide range of scenes to "clean up".  

From a simple daisy

the dark humour of fish sticks

the business of a parking lot

and the immensity of the star filled sky

everything is brought to order.  

I figured that if Wehrli could indulge his OCD tendencies - then I could give it a whirl too.

First I attacked the cutlery emptied from the dishwasher. 

The laundry just begged to be sorted and brought to order.

First I sorted by item, then colour.  It was disconcertingly fun! (Amusingly, all the grey clothes belonged to my husband, and the red-orange-yellow part of the spectrum is significantly under-represented in family attire.)

I figured I better stop there.  Don't want to open up a Pandora's Box of order and tidy.  (Don't think there's really any need to worry, though.)

Wouldn't it be fun to see what the kids would choose to "clean up" in the classroom. And how they would choose to bring order. The possibilities ... 

Werhli does not only tidy up our every day lives, he also tidies up art:  TED talk

Peek behind the scenes to see how the beach picture was created.  It's quite an amazing process.  

Even Werhli, the master of "clean up" shows us that taking the randomness and spontaneity out of a situation, can also drain it of its joy.

So, scatter those toys around the sandbox ...


  1. very enlightening!

    1. It's a new (for me) way of looking at life!

  2. I think I would like this book very much.

    1. I think it would appeal to your delightful quirkiness, Kimberly.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Wow was interesting little book! Sounds like a fun and enlightening way to clean up! Thanks for sharing at Booknificent Thursday!

    1. It is a very interesting book. Make a reader think - in a very visual way.

  5. Fascinating! Thanks for sharing. I need to check it out for sure.

  6. Thanks so much for being a part of Booknificent Thursday this week! This looks fantastic!

  7. After reading your post, I ordered this book. It is wonderful!! So many ways to use this with my K's. Thanks for sharing.


Back to Top