Review: Ziggle! The Len Lye Art Activity Book

A beautifully produced art activity book based on the art and inspiration of Len Lye. Emma Rutherford checks it out with her kids.

Ziggle! is an accessible and fun book of art activities put together by Rebecca Fawkner. Rebecca was able to take the knowledge and skills of the team at New Plymouth’s Len Lye Centre to create a book of art activities. What makes this book stand out from similar books is the strength of learning running throughout, and the bold, clear link with Len Lye’s inspirational work.

Spread from Ziggle!

Unlike similar productions, this book cleverly weaves information about Len Lye, his approach to art, and unpacks artistic concepts. While trialling some of the activities with my children I noticed a similarity between these exercises and the activities I do during art classes. Len Lye as an artist is a natural subject for a book looking to encourage artistic knowledge and creativity. He was inquisitive and had a strong curiosity. Ziggle! seeks to encouraged and develop artistic curiosity.

Ziggle! is absolutely a fantastic activity book for children

For the activity around painting shadows you could see that the artistic element of shape was being explored. On a rare late winter sunny day we played with drawing the shadows of interesting plants from the garden. We learned that when we held the object further from the paper it created a larger shadow. The children also seemed to find it easier to see the bumps and variations in branches when drawing their shadow than when drawing by observation.

Image of child’s arms open to a spread from Ziggle! with art supplies surrounding the book

A recurrent theme throughout the book is testing and trying ideas and not letting perfectionism stop you from enjoying making. Another activity we tried led to some interesting conversations – creating poems from a variety of words cut out of a newspaper then illustrating the words in the poem. As I sat alongside the children I could see this to be a brilliant activity in managing perfectionism – you accept that the words that you draw out are the words you have to work with. 


An activity from the book, showing using cut out newspaper words and hand drawn versions relating to them.

Many of the activities require no special equipment or skills to attempt, making this a very accessible book.

Throughout the book you are encouraged to do your activities straight into the book – again, encouraging you to have a try and to keep a record of all of your development. The book is very inviting in this respect. Discussing with children the benefit of keeping your sketchbooks to go back to ideas later helped them understand that it was okay to try ideas and refer to them later.

Ziggle! is absolutely a fantastic activity book for children, applicable for younger kids 5+ (with support from an adult) up to 13-year-olds who can attempt many activities independently. A great gift idea.

Ziggle! The Len Lye Art Activity Book

By Rebecca Fawkner

Published by Massey University Press

RRP: $35.00

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Emma Rutherford

Emma Rutherford enjoys reading and creating. After learning about Emma's jam-making efforts one summer Booksellers asked her to review a cookbook featuring jams and preserves.  Since then Emma has also reviewed for The Sapling and NZEI Te Riu Roa.  Emma's area of speciality is cookbooks and craft books, particularly for children and young people.  Emma lives in Te Whanganui a Tara where she and her children enjoy hosting 'crafternoons.'