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Christmas is coming fast and if you’re still unsure of what to get people, we’re here to help. That is, if the people in question like delightful, delightful books. Continuing our recent series of posts on books about traveling and lovely places comes a behemoth of illustrated maps called A Map of the World (here on Gestalten’s site).

The book gathers dozens and dozens of beautifully illustrated maps, all of them different, showcasing tons of styles and approaches (all in large format).

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We find it fascinating in how many ways one can think of a map and how pretty one can make it. See for yourselves.

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re-shop-friendsAnd if you want to buy something of ours for Christmas in addition or instead, head  over to Society6, which is having a bunch of promotions before Christmas. There’s no better gift than a poster, right? We also have some, well, towels and are working on more stuff. (Until midnight a code “giftit” should give you 30% off and free shipping and the following days will have different promotions.)

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Let’s continue looking at pretty books about travels and dreaming about all the travels we’re currently not undertaking. Most of our illustrated guides seem to focus on Europe (and more often than not Paris) but this time how about we jump a continent and explore an entirely different country: the USA with the book The 50 States by Gabrielle Balkan and Sol Linero (here on Amazon).

Each spread shows an illustrated map of a state with local curiosities, characteristic animals, famous people and other goodness. There is plenty of information, sometimes unexpected, on things that happened in each state and things you can see if you’re lucky enough to visit it. There are also key facts, symbols, mottos and, most of all, wonderful pictures of all things connected with the state. We haven’t yet read the whole book (it’s a newish addition) but what we have is actually educational.

Visually, the book manages to combine the modern simplicity of flat illustrations with a bit of whimsy and squeeze quite a lot of text in between. The choice of colors is careful and consistent. And when you think about designing the book you realize inherent difficulties in showing all the states with their different sizes in the same manner – but the authors succeed. It’s a pretty, fun book and it tells you about the world’s biggest ball of stamps and about Bonnie and Clyde festival.

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Alaska…

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…has the best dogs.

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All the state flags together.

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With fall so completely upon us it’s nice to think back on holidays and one way to do that is to look at the books we’ve brought with us. As usual, our trip to Paris has resulted in increasing our library of touristy books about Paris. This time let us share a smart little pop-up called, well, Paris Pop Up by Dominique Ehrhard (here‘s a link, should you be interested).

It presents the biggest tourist attractions of the city as 3D models literally rising from the pages of the book as one leafs through it. Each building is situated in its proper place on a fragment of a map and prefaced by a short introduction on the previous spread. All in all, it’s a simple idea quite ingeniously executed and much prettier than most tourist guides.

The intro map with all the attractions and their relative locations.

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An introduction to the Arc de Triomphe.

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And the Arc itself.

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The Louvre.

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The Notre Dame Cathedral rising from its pages in several steps.

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Centre Pompidou (it even has an exhibition poster visible).

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We return with more books by the estimable Miroslav Šašek, this time presenting two other European cities close to our hearts.

This Is Paris was the first book Šašek created. Published in 1959, it started the entire series and its success: and no wonder because it really captures some of the magic of the city (or specifically, the Parisian magic of the 1950s).

Polish version of the book.

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Notre Dame, one of the best things in the world.

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The Louvre without the pyramid.

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This is Rome followed a few years earlier and doesn’t it look like taken straight from the shots of some of the great Italian movie directors? It always makes us think of it anyway.

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Roman lettering, among other things.

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The Colosseum page shows Šašek’s true mastery at architectural illustration, which combines lightness and precision.

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Next week we’re taking a break because we’re finally leaving for our all-too-short holiday (but there will be small illustrations, as usual). We’re back with big updates mid-September!

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We continue our holiday series about books for young – and less young – travelers, this time with two books from a classic series by a Czech illustrator, Miroslav Šašek. His series This Is… presents famous cities and countries of the world through lovely illustrations and short texts. The earliest books in the series, of which This Is London and This Is New York that we’re sharing today are two, were published around 1960 and they also remain some of the most popular.

To us this historical aspect adds to the fun because it show the cities as they were 60 years ago: with different cars, clothes and other details. They look like taken from a charming old movie starring Audrey Hepburn. Our version even has a page at the end which explains to children what has changed since the books were written (not sure if other language versions include that, but probably so).

Šašek developed a lovely, today slightly old-school, style for his illustrations, with strong compositions, a painter’s understanding of color and a touch of newspaper cartoon in his drawings of people. Frankly, it’s not surprising that these books are being re-published and can delight new generations of fans of travel and illustration.

This is London (in Polish).

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And This Is New York (also in Polish).

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It is the time of holiday traveling but this year we only travel with our finger on the map. So it is at least good to have a set of nice maps to do this and the one we want to share today is a book by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielińscy, who (almost) literally drew the whole world.

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Maps is a large-format illustrated book for children (but also quite interesting for adults) and it’s full of, well, maps. Each chapter starts with a map of a continent and then shows maps of selected countries. For each country the map is covered with local animals, foods, clothes, customs and other surprises.

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The beauty of this book is in its scope and detail. You can spend quite a lot of time looking for things you missed before. Mizielińscy also design typography for their illustrations (you can even buy those fonts) so the typographic part of the book is carefully designed. All in all, if maps are your thing, you should give this book a try, at least to acknowledge the impressive effort. (Fair warning though: it is a bit eurocentric. But it still has a lot of material on the rest of the world so don’t be discouraged.)

Our version that we’re showing is in Polish but there are other translations out there: here is Amazon’s link to the English version and here is an activity book based on Maps (we don’t have this one though; but if you do, let us know if it’s good).

Great Britain. Europe is given a loving treatment but, well, we understand.

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Switzerland.

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Sweden and all the famous Swedes.

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France and examples of French fauna.

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Dutch painters.

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Japan.

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South America.

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Africa.

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Close-up on Egypt.

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Canada.

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And the US.

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With a bit of Mexico.

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And off to the cold areas.

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Which have huskies.

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Flags of the world’s countries.

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As it seems unlikely that we will be doing any more travelling this holiday season, instead we are remembering one of our previous trip, the one to London, with a charming book called, well, A Walk in London.

The book is by Salvatore Rubbino and includes spreads on all the well-known tourist attractions as viewed by a little tourist, the main character in the book.

We really like the illustration style of the book: on the one hand, it’s very light – it recalls the freshness of a child’s drawing (something many illustrators try to do). On the other hand, this is clearly not a child’s drawing: in its color scheme and page compositions it has the sophistication of an adult artist.

Title page. Thames is definitely the axis around which the book is built.

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A map, always an interesting design part of such books.

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The typography is a bit messy, which seems to be popular in children’s books these days. It doesn’t work for all books but here it adds to the liveliness of the spreads.

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We loved Tower of London! It’s such a cool place.

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And yes, there is a foldout with the panorama of the Thames bank and the multiple attractions one can find there.

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And the index (with its over-the-top typography).

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As long as we’re not doing any actual travelling, reading about it, especially in books which we can share with J, is the second best thing.