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For our son’s second birthday this year we have again made him a custom picture book. This time we illustrated a story that we’ve been telling him for a while now before sleep. He usually gets bored quickly of those stories and demands that we come up with new ones but the story of a fox that tries to copy the behavior of other animals held his interest longer so we chose this one as a birthday gift.

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The fox meets a pig.

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The bear and bees.

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Stuff like this is always a welcome break from whatever else we’re working on and we only hope J will enjoy the book as much as we enjoyed making it.

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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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This summer Experyment Science Center is organizing a series of events for children to help them spend the time in an interesting and educational way. We designed promo materials for the event. The challenge lied in the fact that the offer consists of different, varied activities and we had to bring them all together. We decided to use the motif of a treasure map along which there are various spots marked with Xs, informing about what you can learn in Experyment in summer. These skills include setting bonfires, staying safe by the water, using a compass, making a pocket constellation, using first aid, predicting the weather and recognizing local plants. As you can plainly see, we illustrated these scout-like skills with simple illustrations which together create the path on the map. The rest of the available space is filled with trees and additional illustrations that complete the suggestion of the outdoors. We are happy with how we managed to make a unified whole out of a poster with so much contents, which is always  more difficult than just illustrating one short message.

The main design we created is the poster, which was later reformated to other media. In addition to that we also designed a small doube-sided leaflet which required a slightly different use of the graphics.

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Both sides of the leaflet.

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Details of the poster and the leaflet.

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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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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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