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).
And This Is New York (also in Polish).
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.
Both sides of the leaflet.
Details of the poster and the leaflet.
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.
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.
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.
Sweden and all the famous Swedes.
France and examples of French fauna.
Close-up on Egypt.
And the US.
With a bit of Mexico.
And off to the cold areas.
Which have huskies.
Flags of the world’s countries.
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.