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We spent Sunday afternoon in the zoo, where our son was excited to see kangaroos and crocodiles and other animals he’d only seen in his books (or, he was actually excited to see so many other children and mildly interested in all those animals). To keep the theme, today we’re sharing a children’s book To Be Like a Tiger illustrated by Emilia Dziubak.

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The book is told by a tiger who explains all the good things he does for various animals in the jungle: how he sneaks up on them to give them gifts or ask them to dance. It’s fun and light but, most of all, it’s quite delightful visually. The tiger is friendly and playful and the jungle truly luscious, with gorgeous colors and rich mixed-media details.

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On the weekend we had as many as two birthday celebrations – mine and our son’s – and even though we didn’t throw up any large parties, just really casual family gatherings, it still took up all of the weekend. (Oh, we also had a small gaming night yesterday after all the partying because that’s how we roll.)

In other words, exactly as promised for those weeks when we don’t take photos, please enjoy a mostly new illustration to commemorate these events.

And this is where we are today:

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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.

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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.

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Animal names in Croatian.

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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.

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Sayings from the mountains and a calendar of local holidays (some of which include dancing).

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A reminder not to scare animals in the wild.

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Match ghosts with their dwellings (and other local attractions).

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The things you eat in the mountains.

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Hot therms to relax in (illustrations with a lot of details are the best fun to draw).

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Marten, as the source of Croatian money.

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Janosik, a folk hero.

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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..

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We were working on the proper post but then we spent most of Sunday acquainting our baby with a cat – to mutual fascination, awe and just a bit of distrust.

Specifically, we visited friends who have cats and J had his first chance ever to stalk a cat (well, at least in his view; in the view of the rest of the world the cat had all the control).

We promise this is and always will be a design blog not one where we talk about cutesy things children do but every now and then we will fail to deliver a proper post. That’s, these days, a given. However, we will always try to make up with a custom-made illustration, at least. Next week: the proper post.

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We’re in the middle of a redecoration project right now and we spent too much of Sunday with hammers and screwdrivers to finish a larger post. We did manage to finish the illustration above though and it’s brand new (just like our cupboard) so enjoy that for now.

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We are working on a huge project that we will share next week – and I’d like to say we’re finishing it but no, it’s just “working” for now – so in the meantime please enjoy this random illustration of bears from our archive. Because bears. And cuddling.

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If you’ve been following us for a while you might have noticed that we are huge fans of Marianna Oklejak, an illustrator whose style mixes freshness of children’s drawings and adult humor. Every now and then we share her work and time has come to show you our newest acquisition (well, we got it for Christmas but it still counts as new).

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This is a special book in that Oklejak is for a change not illustrating someone else’s work but doing that whole illustrator-as-author thing. And she’s great at it! She draws inspiration from Polish folk art and reinterprets its motifs.

Polish folk art is quite rich and can be visually exciting. Every region had its motifs, color schemes and ornaments, as well as unique techniques of decorating things. This tradition withered to a large extent when people got more interested in the “modern”, industrial design. Folk art got relegated to decorating tourist souvenirs and became viewed as embarrassing. But it’s been having a sort of renaissance now that many designers, particularly interior designers and such, began to draw inspiration from the traditional motifs in a modern way (which also gets trashy sometimes, but often it works amazingly).

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Oklejak’s book uses folk motifs as elements of her fun compositions but adds an educational element. The spread above simply shows various types of local headgear (and only the one with peacock feathers is at all recognizable these days).

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This awesome spread uses stripes from traditional skirts as elements of a landscape full of fields (which is also a typical Polish landscape so that works great).

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Two different folk dance spreads! Do they play Polish folk? (Hopefully not, it’s not great.)

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Traditional lace tablecloths as autumn clouds.

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And paper doilies as snowflakes.

We’re happy that the book has already won an Ibby award because in addition to the fairly obvious educational value it has so much more: a sort of quirky atmosphere that manages to combine tradition with a more modern feel and to celebrate local identity.