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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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As a gift for friends we created two illustrations, presenting their patron saints. Saint Catherine of Siena was a 14th century nun and philosopher, a visionary, proclaimed a Doctor of the Church and a patron of Italy. Her attributes include a lily, a book, stigmata and a crown of thorns. Saint Gregory the Great was a pope of the Roman Church, also a Doctor of the Church, reformer and philosopher. He’s traditionally presented with a book and a papal crown, sometimes with a dove.

We drew inspiration from the classic representations of these saints, especially those rather austere ones approaching icons, but we modernized them with monoline drawings and a more decorative color palette.

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In what has become a bit of a tradition, this year again we celebrate St. Valentine’s by sharing the poster we did for Experyment Science Center. The poster is an invitation for an adults’ evening where, among other attractions, experts try to explain love in scientific terms. This year’s theme included the chemistry of love and how different chemicals are responsible for the emotions that we feel.

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In what has become a trademark for this series we again chose to illustrate a lovely lady but this time we focused on perfume and the love compound and not so much on her science-related look. We chose intense color scale with hot pinks offset by aquas.

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So please enjoy your St. Valentine’s Day tomorrow, whether celebrating it with your loved ones or just doing something fun for yourselves. We are convinced that any holiday is worth celebrating, whether in its spirit or differently – that’s up to you.

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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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