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.
A short introduction.
The doctor travelling through the mists.
Sometimes “sunny” is a word you need to teach your child.
But these days this feels like a more useful description.
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.
Spread for January, more appropriate now that we’ve got some snow.
April and December
The introduction to individual animals.
And now for some highlights from the lady fox’s story of love and family:
Featuring the cutest baby foxes.
And the badger’s story of eating and sleeping.
So yes, we’re still swamped but it’s high time for a proper post. This time we wanted to share one of our relatively recent book acquisitions, a picture book Here is the Baby by Polly Kanevsky, illustrated by Taeeyun Yoo.
The book tells a very simple story of a baby boy on his day with his family (and especially his dad) as he goes through the routine of meals, a walk, a bath, play and sleep. The very simplicity of the text underscores the actual experience of taking care of a baby, while giving it a touching, sweet quality (we saw online some people didn’t like the text but we find it both honest and poetic with the rhythm and no rhymes).
The illustrations have a classic, deceptively simple character but manage to gorgeously capture the everyday warmth of family life. They almost shine with domestic light. If there’s one expression to describe the book heart-warming would be the closest. And yep, we probably wouldn’t have cared for it all that much before we had our own baby but now we not only admire the illustrations but find so much truth in the mood of this book. (Though, admittedly, it does not cover teething. Ugh, teething.)
The illustrations are somewhat old-school, reminding us of really old children books we used to have in childhood.
We have to admit though that this book might be more interesting to parents than babies. Our son always picks Walk this World over anything.
(And as an unrelated sidenote, there are promotions all week long over on Society6, where you can buy our posters and some other gadgets.)
Today we’re sharing a classic from our library, Saul Bass’s Henri’s Walk to Paris. You probably know Saul Bass from either his logo designs, movie posters or his iconic title sequences he created with his wife, Elaine. Those sequences remain a lasting legacy and have been revered, pastiched and parodied. As can be expected, we’re huge fans of Bass and of his bon mot “Design is thinking made visual.” It sure should be.
The book we’re showing today is a slightly less known work: Bass’s only children’s book. Bass’s illustration style, well-known from his posters, is quite recognizable with its vivid, flat colors and cutout shapes. This style is also quite remarkable for how it seems to anticipate the prevalent style of today’s vector illustrations with their, you guessed it, flat colors and geometric shapes.
But Henri’s Walk is truly a designer’s work, rather than just an illustrator’s (lovely as the illustrations are). It makes a smart use of page layout and typography in a way which is intriguing and playful (see e.g. the ingenious ideas on how not to show the characters’ faces to make the story more general). Both images and the text itself tells a story that delights and makes you wonder. And, of course, the colors are simply gorgeous.
Henri’s little house in his little town. The town of Reboul seems lovely.
The park with five trees and one squirrel.
Most of the people of Reboul plus one cow.
Every now and then our son goes through book phases when he gets very excited about looking through picture books. We’ve got a ton of those books but not all of them are great to look at. And so to celebrate J’s birthday we filled one of the not-so-pretty books with custom illustrations showing J and some of his toys.
It was a fairly quick side project but it was a lot of fun and it got a semi-appreciative audience because J was quite excited to recognize the toys he’s playing with in the pictures.
From sketch to page. (A form of J’s name is a homophone with the Polish word for a hedgehog and so we have all sorts of toy hedgehogs at home.)
An underwater page with various bath toys.
Nothing is more fun than IKEA rats.
Fun in the playground.
For the second half of holidays we present a travel-related illustration project. Podróżowniki is a series of award-winning children books that introduce popular travel destinations through a mix of information and activities for kids. The books were designed by Podpunkt studio and we illustrated two of them: the guide to Croatia and to the Tatra and Pieniny Mountains in Poland.
Since the series was illustrated by several different illustrators, to keep a unified look we needed to follow guidelines: the illustrations are hand-drawn, a little sketchy and black-and-white (the bits of color that do appear were added later during typesetting).
The map of Croatia, with tourist destinations and basic information.
Animal names in Croatian.
The inner flaps of the covers have additional materials: a memo game with a selection of illustrations and a board game where you recreate your travels with pawns.
Sayings from the mountains and a calendar of local holidays (some of which include dancing).
A reminder not to scare animals in the wild.
Match ghosts with their dwellings (and other local attractions).
The things you eat in the mountains.
Hot therms to relax in (illustrations with a lot of details are the best fun to draw).
Marten, as the source of Croatian money.
Janosik, a folk hero.
I know we often say this, but this project was so much fun to work on! While research-heavy and fairly time-consuming, it was one of the most exciting (and relaxing at the same time) things we did in a while because when you draw actually using your hands, it’s a different kind of energy than the usual, computer-based work..