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We did flake a little at the beginning of the year (sorry!) but December exhausted us completely. We’re back! We’re back with another lovely book, this time by Isabella Bunnel. The book is called Disappearing Acts and it shows endagered animals of different habitats in lovely, painted search-and-find spreads.

Each spread has a unique color scheme, a richness of details and patterns and a sad message: among the variety of well-painted animals from a different terrain, the reader is asked to find some which are literally disappearing.

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Further pages describe the animals and explain the reasons for their endangered status (spoiler alert: it’s mostly environmental damage and loss of habitats).

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The activity part is easy – our four-year-old found all the animals fast – but the lovely, detailed illustrations still invite careful study. The book is educational, too, with an important message. It manages to match the kind of activity to the theme well (the animals are difficult to find because they are fewer and fewer – makes sense). And, most of all, the painting style is so charming and confident.

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Another trip to the library brought us (and J) another lovely book by Britta Teckentrup. (The previous one is here.) This time we returned with Tree, which tells the story of seasons through a tree in a forest and the animals that live within or near it. The book has a poem commenting on the seasonal changes but it’s really the illustrated part that grabs your attention. It has lovely depictions of animals in their yearly cycle (foxes are, unsurprisingly, our favorites) and a generous use of die-cuts, which make the book more playful. But we are, perhaps, most impressed with the color palettes used for every season (and particularly autumn).

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The owl in its hollow is always in the centre of the tree – and of the book – while the forest around it changes. (Below the minimalist, and lovely, endpaper.)

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Winter snowy mystery (wonder if we’re going to get it this year).

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Spring lushness (our personal favorite real-life season).

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Summer night with its richness of life.

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The beautiful autumn.

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And here we go again.

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As we enter the season of the year that we tend to unreasonably grumble about (it’s cold and it’s gray, guys), this reminder of the beauty of every season comes as very welcome.

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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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After a Valentine’s Day related interlude, we come back to the rest of the exhibitions about the gardens of Gdańsk, designed for the Museum of Gdańsk. The general explanation is here, in part one. Today’s photos show the other, pink room (and glimpses of the blue one) which focused on the philosophy of gardening in the 18th and 19th centuries.

A section on garden benches with a bench where a visitor could rest.

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A glimpse of the original interior of the museum: a stucco ceiling.

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The blue room held original art and a huge printout of a historical photo.

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…and this guy.

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In this mostly-gray-sometimes-white winter it’s nice to think back on a summery project we did last year: an exhibition for the Museum of Gdańsk, entitled “The Gardens of Gdańsk.” The exhibition was held in the Uphagen House, a museum of historical interiors, taking up one floor of it, and it illustrated the history of public and private gardens in Gdańsk, as well as the very philosophy of gardening in the – mostly – 18th century. The exhibition was curated by Ms. Zofia Maciakowska and Ms. Katarzyna Rozmarynowska and all the (often problematic) organizational problems were expertly managed by Mr. Wojciech Szymański of the Museum.

We designed the entire exhibition: the spacial arrangement, colors, typography and all the prints displayed. The materials were fun to work with because they consisted of old maps, prints and illustrations.

The map of the Oliwa Park at the entrance to the exhibition.

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While we really wanted to use real plants, the rooms didn’t have enough light and so we used artificial ivy and other plants, arranged on wooden garden constructions painted according to historical conventions (this lovely green-gray color is actually historically accurate, as we learned).

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The walls were decorated with illustrative etchings and large quotes about gardening.

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A close-up of the quote with the author.

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The boards have different depths, with the thicker sides painted the color contrasting with the wall (pink in the green room, green in the pink room).

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The typeface not only fits the conventions of the 18th century serif typefaces with their large contrast and geometrical shapes but also have decorative variants that match the etchings.

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Next week we’ll show you more photos.

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Last week we shared with you a book by Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud about the ocean. But the first time we encountered a book by these artists was In the Forest, their beautiful and sad story about deforestation (and, luckily, re-forestation). It uses very ingenious techniques of paper engineering to talk in simple ways about the destruction of forests, still ending on a hopeful note. While the ocean book is probably more cheerful, this one, we feel, works more strongly.

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(Also, as a not-irrelevant side note, consider not buying products with palm oil, if you feel the need to do something.)

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Today let us share a beautiful book called Under the Ocean by Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud.

The book is a mastery of paper book engineering, with each spread unfolding in two steps: first to show the situation on the surface of the ocean, where the boat Oceano is traveling. Then, with more impressive sculptural effects, we’re shown what’s underneath it. The 3D extravaganza is paired with beautiful, subtle illustration whose strength lies in just enough detail combined with subtle painterly effects and sensitivity.

It takes you on a journey through the richness of the ocean and while not as directly focused on the ecological message as their previous book about a forest (we’ll show you that one, too), it still manages to convey the beauty and the vulnerability of our oceans.

The cover of the Polish edition.

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The boat is starting its journey.

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Whales (the minimalist spread offsets nicely more busy spreads around it.)

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Seals in the Arctic.

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This is probably not exactly like seeing the coral reef but what a beautiful approximation.

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