Have you ever loved a story so much that you wanted to disappear into it? Book nooks are mini worlds created inside a bookshelf. The idea seems to have originated in 2018 with a Tokyo artist called Monde, but the diorama is actually much older. It was invented by the French artist and photographer Louis Daguerre and his colleague Charles Marie Bouton, in 1821.
This make is quite fiddly for small hands, but totally worth the effort. If you’re worried about working in a little space, just select a larger box. We’ve made a homage to The Lost World, by Arthur Conan Doyle, but you can choose any story that takes your fancy. Let’s get cracking, shall we?
– A cereal box
– Acrylic paints
– A4 scrap paper
– Thin card (coloured or pre-painted)
– A helpful adult
– Assortment of collage papers
– Thick card
– Strong glue
– Tissue paper
– Needle (optional)
– Thread (optional)
– Toy dinosaurs (optional)
– Sticky tack
With a ruler, mark up and cut your cereal box so it is the size and shape of a large book. Remember to check the size of your chosen bookcase to make sure your book nook will fit. Paint the inside of the box and leave it to dry.
Measure the back panel of your book nook. Plot those measurements out on the piece of scrap A4 paper, then carefully cut it out. This will be the template for your scenery sections.
Draw around the template four times onto coloured or pre-painted thin card. Check your measurements and then cut them out. Using a pencil, draw wobbly shaped ‘windows’ in your scenery sections. The darker colours will go at the back, so make these windows smaller. The lightest will go at the front, so make these bigger. Take a pair of scissors and carefully cut the windows out. Ask an adult to help you if this proves tricky.
Collect together your collage papers. You’re looking for natural forms, shapes and colours. Use these to further embellish your scenery sections. Photographic elements add interest and depth. If you can find a mountain scene for the very back, that’s brilliant – but not strictly necessary. Make it your own.
Cut some scraps of thick card into small squares. Layer and glue them to the back of your scenery panels. Placing spacers like this will add to the 3D effect. Leave them to dry.
Measure the panel at the base of your cereal box and make a riverbed with bits of painted card and tissue paper. You could also continue your river onto one of your scenery panels to make it look like it’s disappearing off into the distance. Leave it to dry.
These tendrils are made with more scraps of painted card layered up and glued together. Just make sure the width at the top matches the width of your cereal box book nook.
When everything is dry you can start layering and glueing inside the box. Start with the bits in the background and work your way forwards.
When your scenery sections are in place it’s time to add the riverbed.
We used a needle and thread to insert a flying pterosaur. Ask an adult to help you here.
Glue the tendrils in place and leave it to dry. You can add trees, a sign, some helicopters, a volcano – anything you like.
Place your dino diorama in your chosen bookcase and voilà! You’ve made your very own brilliant book nook!
Don’t stop there!
We’d love to see your diorama book nooks. Why not send a picture to the address on the readers’ page of the AQUILA website, and we’ll share as many as we can.
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Written by Hi-lo Piccolo.