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During one of our recent trips to the library our son, who’s got a good eye for books (mostly, I mean; he gets distracted by popular franchises), picked out this little treasure we’re sharing today: The Egg.

The book is written and illustrated by the wonderfully talented Britta Teckentrup (whose work we didn’t know before) and it tells all (well, a lot) about eggs in a style that manages to be both informative and artistic. J loved all the facts about different kinds of eggs, particularly the really large ones. We loved the art, its combination of minimalism and humanism (not an easy thing to pull off). Together we had quite a few fun evenings with the book before the time came to return it.

“Egg collections.” Throughout the book the use of texture and color is marvelous.

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“Egg colors”

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“Inside the egg.” This gave J a pause.

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Size comparison.

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The biggest egg ever. J loved this fact.

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There’s an interesting section on nests.

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A section on eggs not laid by birds.

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And one about the meaning of an egg in art and religion. While J leans towards natural facts, we enjoy the cultural angle.

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What are your favorite lucky finds from the library?

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Last week died Bohdan Butenko, one of the great Polish illustrators. His work was truly unique. It was one of the staples of our childhood reading experience because he created and illustrated so many books (allegedly over 200). The Polish People’s Republic was not a great time in Polish history in many ways but the talented illustrators who worked then certainly made it a little brighter, Butenko being one of the most joyful of them.

His style is very easy to spot, with several characteristic features:

  1. Simplicity. The simplicity is often deceptive because frequently finding the kind of shortcut he was so good at is the hardest thing to do. But his drawings are certainly recognizable by the scarcity of details. (It is also tempting to try to copy this if you’re the kind of kid who spends their days with crayons and pencils.)
  2. Bold lines. His drawings were always executed in thick, black lines which enclosed the forms.
  3. Flat colors. He often created in black and white but when he used colors, he did it confidently.
  4. Humor. One of the most endearing qualities of his work, he always tried to make the subject matter funny and lighthearted.
  5. Text interpretation. Rather than drawing literally what the text said, Butenko usually added a little story to it in his illustration, often making it funnier.
  6. Hand-written words. He had a nice way with letters, too. He often used comic book balloons and combinations of various lettering styles (always pretty simple, though).
  7. Good sense for layout. He wasn’t the kind of illustrator who leaves the picture for someone else to fit into the text. Instead, he often designed the whole arrangement of the elements on the page, usually drawing inspiration from comic books. Some of our favorite of his books include layout design which sort of comicsifies the text. (Not a word, I know.)

We have photographed Butenko books from our collection to illustrates the points above but mainly to share his work with you and maybe to inspire you to dig further.

This is our childhood fave, Butenko’s interpretation of classic children’s poems by Jan Brzechwa. He takes the already fun poems and makes them so much more exciting, particularly by turning them into a sort of comic but also by his visual interpretation of some of the stories.

Title page. (The cover went missing many years back.)

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“How to Talk to a Dog”

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“Ram” and “A Hole in the Bridge”

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Sometimes Butenko illustrated for adults, too, This is his version of Philip Zimbardo’s classic on shyness, with the humorous illustrations making the theme much lighter. A hand-written cover is also a Butenko thing.

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“Get a very becoming haircut…”

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A children’s book about two cars dancing together. Pretty much a comic. (A favorite from my brother’s childhood, he was always into cars.)

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A book on geometry for children, notice how Butenko handles the page layouts.

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An interpretation of Kipling’s story about the domestication of a cat. This is a little bizarre but very interesting in its combination of the slightly somber, old-fashioned fairy tale with Butenko’s visual wit and energy. Also, the pagination is awesome.

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This is an example of his work for small children, telling stories without words through one of the classic characters he invented.

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And one more Brzechwa poem, this time laid out into an entire cardboard book.

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This is his work for older children, with black and white illustrations, a sort of action adventure tale.

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“…international bandits…”

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Do you have a favorite Butenko book? Or a favorite childhood illustrator?

 

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Yesterday we went for a walk in the woods, fooled by beautiful autumn weather. When we were entering the woods, a few drops of rain fell but we looked up and only saw an innocent little cloud so we decided to carry on. Of course, when we were in the middle of our walk, the rain started pouring and we got soaked through. Still, a fun walk. (Also, we were occupied with parenting duties all through the weekend hence this shortened post.)

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Those of you who’ve been with us for a while will have seen this project but we’re reposting both for the new guests and because of the special occasion: the 25th anniversary of the first emission of Friends, which remains just about the most popular TV show in TV history (we go by impression, not data, here).

For us the show was certainly an important one (well, for one of us; the other one only watched it much later). We celebrated 20 years of Friends with a poster in which we designed an icon for each episode: that was a lot of icon-designing and a lot of Friends-watching and both of those things were so much fun.

poster_friends_wizIf you like the poster, it’s available for sale here.

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And for those who only like a particular season or would like all the seasons separately so that they can cover the entire wall with bigger Friends icons, we also made 10 posters for 10 seasons.

friends-20-redesign-season01Season 1: The One Where They Get a Monkey, a Fussball Table and Rachel (buy here).

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Season 2: The One Where Joey Moves Out and Back In (buy here).

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Season 3: The One with All the Drama with Ross and Rachel (buy here).

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Season 4: The One That Ends in London (buy here).

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Season 5: The One with Monica and Chandler’s Secret (buy here).

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Season 6: The One Where Monica and Chandler Get Engaged (buy here).

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Season 7: The One Where Monica and Chandler Get Married (buy here).

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Season 8: The One with Rachel’s Pregnancy (buy here).

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Season 9: The One Largely about Babies (buy here).

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Season 10: The Last One Where They All Become Adults (Except for Joey) (buy here; all posters can also be bought here).

Original post with a bit more of our Friends story and sentiments here. (And yes, we’re Monica and Chandler fans.)

And on an unrelated note: did you know there’s a Friends Lego set? You probably did. It seems quite fun.

On August 15th 1969 Woodstock music festival started. It featured some of the greatest musicians of the era and became a legend of the counterculture of the 1960s. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the festival and we already celebrated it with a poster. But because we like the subject matter so much, we also created a series of small illustrations depicting some of our favorite Woodstock musicians.

Day 1.

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Richie Havens opened the festival and played for almost three hours, waiting for other performers stuck in traffic to arrive. The performance built his career.

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Melanie Safka is known for her energetic, lighthearted music and enthusiasm. Woodstock performance inspired her to write a song “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” because people lit candles during her set.

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Currently famous mostly for her cooperation with Bob Dylan, Baez has been a great folk musician and one of the most significant female voices to appear at Woodstock.

Day 2.

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Not yet well-known, the band Santana with its front man Carlos Santana became huge after their Woodstock performance and went on to be one of the biggest names of the ones that appeared then.

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Creedence Clearwater Revival performed late at night but still managed to energize the crowd with their catchy, powerful music.

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One of the greatest legends of the 60s music, Janis Joplin was a star of the festival. A wonderful performer and an icon of her era, Joplin died tragically a year later.

Day 3.

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A huge band at the time, Jefferson Airplane performed on Sunday morning. The band epitomized the philosophy and lifestyle of a 60s rock’n’roll band.

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Like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix would burn bright but short – he also died a year later. His Woodstock show was the last of the lineup and technically took place on Monday.

Who are your favorite Woodstock musicians?

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Almost exactly 50 years ago, on the 20th of July 1969, man first landed on the Moon. In the heat of the space race president John F. Kennedy declared that Americans would land on the Moon by the end of 1960s, and what do you know, they did*.

A giant rocket Saturn V was constructed, capable of carrying space ship Apollo 11 to the Moon. We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of this momentous moment with a poster illustrating Saturn V.

The poster is available in our store.

(* Some people might still disagree but we don’t hold with conspiracy theories and are all the happier for it.)

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