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Coming back from a meeting a few weeks ago we stopped by a nice bookshop full of artsy treasures and, of course, we impulse-bought a children’s book we want to share with you today. It’s by William Grill and it’s called The Wolves of Currumpaw. Fair warning: it’s not exactly a happy book, more of a cautionary tale, as it tells the story of a wolf hunter and how his biggest catch made him turn into a preservation activist (I guess this is the happy part in the end; but first there’s wolf-killing and we honestly found it hard to read).

The loveliest part of the book is the illustration style: how it cites Native American art but also makes it very approachable and child-friendly. The use of crayons for the drawings makes them softer, almost like a blanket, and we feel this softening is quite welcome, considering the subject matter.

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(The wolf starring in the photos is our son’s, from a series of plush toys that help support  WWF.)

An example of the lovely sense of space the book creates.

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The illustrator creates masterful variations between spreads. Some are panoramic views of the landscape, some resemble infographics while others are dynamic action scenes. The color palette is lively and hushed at the same time.

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And this one is somewhere in between an infographic and an action scene.

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(The wolf is called “Oww.”)

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The two wolves eternally happy in the wolf heaven.

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We were quite touched by the book because, well, we love wolves. The issue of  preservation of our local ones is very dear to us and we try to support it as much as we can. (And if you feel similarly, you may always consider donating to WWF or another similar organization. Just saying.)

If you know as at all, you know we love tangible type, book covers and paper. Our “Inspiration” archive is full of such finds and today we decided to share a few lovely works which combine all these things: prepare to be amazed by book cover designs where the title is made of paper.

We will start with ours – and everyone else’s – favorite, the brilliant Peter Mendelsund and his covers for Ben Marcus. The covers use deceptively simple typography on slips of paper interwoven with almost as simple ornaments. The ornaments directly refer the parts of the titles (flames, sea) and boast lovely, subtle color palettes. It’s always particularly impressive when something looks almost too easy to bother with and yet is masterful.

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This cover designed by Gabriele Wilson also uses the traditionally printed words which are surrounded by a seemingly random, but really quite sophisticated composition of shredded paper strips. Together they create an atmosphere of mystery and maybe even danger but mixed with the kind of ennui in administrative offices (I’ve no idea what the book is about, just interpreting the cover image).

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One of the common – and usually quite successful and guaranteed to make us happy – tricks is writing made of paper which peels off, revealing something underneath it. However, in this design by Zoe Norvell, the three-dimensionality of the text doesn’t focus attention on the layer underneath. Instead it allows for its entanglement with the threads, playing on the title.

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And in this cover by Tori Elliot the cut-out of letters and shapes plays a more traditional function. It creates the clash between the simple white outer layer and the green illustration underneath, suggesting the lushness of jungle but also how it is not evident at first sight.

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This design by Sinem Erkas uses memo notes to refer to the theme of memory and as material for the creation of semi-spacial letters. Even though the letters are very simple in shape, they prove that the designer possesses a lovely sense of form.

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And here are sticker bookmarks used in an delightful – and impressive – composition by Jon Gray. Not only is this design a smart comment on the complexity of the novel, it is also very pleasing esthetically.

Finally, three covers by one of our favorite cover designers ever, an extremely prolific David Drummond. Mr. Drummond is the master of an ingenious idea realized often with minimalist methods, and quite frequently employing paper.

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Paper/page topography.

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Paper lettering.

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Remember we said it would be both minimalist and ingenious?

Obviously, this is only a small selection because paper might be the most versatile material designers get to work with and it allows for all sorts of solutions. Personally, we tend to be most charmed by simple-yet-brilliant ideas executed with a mix of efficiency and lightness, as evidenced above.

Also, traditionally we’re informing you about a 20%+free shipping promo on our Society6 stuff – you’re most welcome to visit our store.

 

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Every now and then, not too often, we share with you a boardgame from our probably-too-large collection. We pick them entirely for designery reasons, not for how much fun the game brings us (for instance our all time favorite game, Mousquetaires du Roy, has typography that burns your eyes out). This time it’s a game Skull that R got for his birthday last week from our friends.

It’s seemingly a simple bidding game whose only components are six sets of token (no board, so I guess it’s more of a token-game?), each set including three flower tokens and one skull token. The illustrations are quite lovely, unified but different across the sets so that each skull relates (vaguely or not) to a different culture. There is a lot of careful ornamentation, detail and a tasteful use of color.

The box.

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Contents the box.

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Viking (?) set, immediately picked by a Vikings fan in our group (hi, Z).

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A Mexican set, possibly the prettiest in the game.

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The backs with their ornaments. See what I mean about the color?

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All the flowers in the game, as behooves the springtime that’s arrived.

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I’m still not sure we played the game right the one time we managed to try it so far but it sure is one of the better designed among the ones we own.

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Last week we showed you a lovely Animalium book and promised that there are two. As you might already know or at least expect, the other one deals with the exciting world of plants and is called Botanicum. Having already enjoyed the one about animals, we were delighted to get the second part for last Christmas.

Just like the one about animals, Botanicum presents various families and groups of plants with gorgeous illustrations reminiscent of old encyclopedias. It’s both decorative and inspiring scientific interest.

Introduction.

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Elaeis guineensis (says Google Translate).

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Palms and cycads. (We love the little ideas, e.g. how one-color illustrations begin to form an ornamental pattern while in full color they are informative.)

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Rain forests.

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Trees. The pattern again and also this typeface works really well in this design.

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Fruit trees.

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Today we want to share with you the first one of two lovely books from our bookshelf. We got it a little bit by accident and really loved it. It’s illustrated by Katie Scott and called Animalium because, you know, it’s about animals. (Also, we got it in Polish so look at the margins for the translation of the spreads’ titles but you can easily get in it English.)

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The book recreates a natural history museum and present all sorts of animals in an educational (and lovely) way. On the cover you can even see a golden hotstamped ticket (in the top right-hand corner), which says “Animal Museum Ticket” (it says “Welcome to the Museum / Admit All” in the original version but I like the Polish version better, I think? by a narrow margin) and this little detail sets the tone for the whole book.

Welcome to Animalium. Introduction

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Inside you will find illustrations and descriptions of all kinds of creatures from across the whole animal kingdom, arranged according to clear criteria. There are so many things to love about the book:

  • Illustrations. They are obviously inspired by old scientific encyclopedic etchings, only more colorful and partly modernized
  • Title typeface, a pretty one by Hipopotam Studio
  • Lushness. The book is just full of gorgeous details and, as the ticket on the cover suggests, has a certain luxurious quality to it (also because it’s really big, format-wise)
  • No age limit. It can be exciting both for kids and adults. Our son loved Animalium even if he was technically too little for books
  • Educational value, no duh

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Cnidaria (admittedly, not a word I knew before)

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Amphibians

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Natural environment: woods

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Penguins

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Bats

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Rodents

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Library

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You might remember our previous posts of literary primers by Jennifer Adams with art by Alison Oliver. Or if you don’t, here’s Dracula and here’s the gem of Pride and Prejudice. As we were visiting our friends, Z&A, we spotted on their bookshelf another book from the series: this time a weather primer based on Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. So, of course, we immediately borrowed it (thanks guys!) to share it with you.

This primer introduces weather-related adjectives with rather idyllic scenes from around Wuthering Heights.

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A short introduction.

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The doctor travelling through the mists.

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Sometimes “sunny” is a word you need to teach your child.

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But these days this feels like a more useful description.

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…Aaaaaand puppies.

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As you may or may not remember, we are big fans of the illustrator Emilia Dziubak and her detailed, colored style, which plays with flat design but goes far beyond it. But her book that we’re sharing with you today, Rok w lesie (A Year in the Woods) is even more than we would have any right to expect. It combines pretty much everything that we love in children’s illustration: details, narration, humor and forest animals.

Each spread of the book shows the same woodland scene with the same animals doing things appropriate for every month. You can see not only the changes in the weather and plants but, most importantly, the different activities in which animals are involved. A huge level of detail means that one can return to the book many, many times, each time finding something new and delightful. The things animals do combine the educational aspect with a lot of good humor. And being very much woods-loving people who try to go for a walk there at least every two days, we find the depiction of the woods charming.

Except for the names of the months, most of the book is wordless, which makes it accessible to younger children (ones who will be able to follow the details, though). The last spread has a list of various animals with a character quirk for each so that one can look for those in the book. It’s actually quite fun to browse through the book multiple times, each time focusing on just one animal and their story.

Book cover.

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Spread for January, more appropriate now that we’ve got some snow.

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April and December

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The introduction to individual animals.

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And now for some highlights from the lady fox’s story of love and family:

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Featuring the cutest baby foxes.

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And the badger’s story of eating and sleeping.

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