Journal Sparks Book review

Note: This post may contain affiliate links.

It’s not every day that I come across a book that I absolutely swoon over, and today I’m sharing a brand new book that is making my artsy heart sing with delight. This happens to be the book launch day for Journal Sparks (happy birthday, Journal Sparks!!), and you are in for a treat!

Art Sparks Book

If you love art journals and creative prompts, if you’ve followed along with the TinkerSketch challenges, and if you are looking for creative ways to encourage and support creative thinking in your family life, Journal Sparks by Emily Neuburger has got to be added to your cart stat. Emily is the author of the award-winning Show Me a Story, and she has outdone herself with this newest book.

Journal Sparks has a childhood bent to it, but I personally found it full of inspiration and I think you’d be happy to own it as a kid or grown-up. I promise you will not be disappointed.


Let me first share my everlasting love for sketchbooks and journals. Like so many kids, I kept a diary when I was little. I wasn’t religious about it, but the habit of writing out my thoughts and documenting ideas was powerful and helped me through hard times. When I was in high school I discovered Julia Cameron’s famous, ground-breaking book, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. In her book, Cameron encourages you to keep what she calls “morning pages,” or three free-hand pages of stream of conscious writing each day. The process of writing without too much heavy thinking helped me tap into my dreams, and that’s when I started keeping sketchbooks of my ideas, experiments, musings, and even checklists.

journal collectionI pulled out a handful of these journals for this post – from grad school, collaborative journals with my kids, and recent books. I’m not married to one type of journal, but as you can see I do love spiral bound notebooks with heavy paper that can handle water and paint. Strathmore visual journal is one that I continue to return to over and over again. In the moment, these journals are a safe place to drop inspiration and passing thoughts, and in hindsight they’re treasure-troves of data and ideas for future projects.


This is all to say that I love keeping a visual journal, have been doing this for ages, and I am fully and completely inspired by Emily’s fresh take on this topic. I’ll share just a couple ideas from her book and would encourage you to pick up your own copy as it’s sure to inspire hours upon hours of fun, which could turn into transformative experiences for you, your family, or your students.


Map Your Day

For this prompt, pull out your supplies and document your day with pictures and words. I set up my favorite Kuratake watercolor paints, Canson Mix Media Sketchbook, Micron waterproof pen, a brush, water, and a rag.

This process is somewhat like keeping a daily written diary, but with images and just a few words. Pick the key moments of your day — illustrate them, and add arrows to connect one moment to another.

I’ve never done this before and found the process fun, easy, and enlightening. It didn’t take long, I wasn’t too worried about making it perfect (despite sharing this here with you, the sketchbooks are just for me, after all), and seeing my day in pictures will be a joyful memory of a wonderful day.
map your day (1)

Images above (left to right): Journal Sparks prompt, my set-up, close-up of my map, another view of my map

Color Your Mood


This process, again, is fun and easy, and I want to continue the practice over seasons to see how this evolves. The process involves painting small snapshots of your emotions in color. This is a great exercise for anyone who feels like they can’t draw since illustration isn’t a requirement.

How I did it: I cut Canson Watercolor Paper into 3″ squares and then painted the emotion or feelings about the day in colors. One day was spent at Stanford where the school mascot is the Cardinal, and the day was full of energy. This day got a wash of red. Another day was spent in nature: Tall green stripes. I taped the mood squares into a large journal and added a few thoughts about the day. These will be so fun to look back on as brief snapshots in time.

color your mood

Images above (left to right): Journal Sparks prompt, Emily’s example, close up of my mood colors, close-up of my mood colors

Click over to Amazon to click inside the book (my favorite feature) and learn more.

dashed lines

Order a Copy of Journal Sparks or Look Inside the Book

dashed lines



  1. Love the way you add vibrant colours to life’s canvas through your Art Challenges, Book Reviews, good reads and various art-based activities. It is indeed beyond appreciation! Thank you, Rachelle :).

    It is awesome to know about ‘Journal Sparks’ and the value Emily is creating in others lives. Beautifully reviewed by you and a while back have placed an order. Eagerly waiting for my copy.

    Thank you, Rachelle, for helping me to spin my better story :)!

  2. This looks like a fabulous book! Thank you for sharing, I love your blog. I always feel inspired!

  3. […] I am impatiently waiting for the postman to deliver Emily’s latest book, Journal Sparks. A sketchbook meets art journal filled with prompts- it sounds like a glorious book dedicated to inspiring you to observe the creative possibilities in the Everyday. Sneak peeks of it on Instagram have me very excited. Or I really enjoyed this review by Rachelle at Tinkerlab. […]

  4. Good day!I could have sworn I’ve visited this site before butt after browsing through some of the posts I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyways, I’m definitely delighted I stumbled upon it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back frequently!

Comments are closed.