Apples and Robins

IMG_1889 copy

by Lucie Félix (Chronicle Books, 2016)

IMG_1891 copy

Here’s a book that is also a puzzle, an optical illusion, and a little bit toy-like all at once. Here’s what I mean.

So, then, a birdhouse: one small circle, two parallelograms, and a die-cut triangle.

IMG_1895 copy IMG_1896 copy IMG_1899 copy

Or walls and a roof and a string, of course. Isn’t that what shapes are? Real, living, breathing things?

IMG_1900 copy IMG_1901 copy

But then wind blows and the sky rumbles, and . . .

IMG_1902 copy

This book isn’t only clever cuts and shapes transforming into magic. It’s also a gentle arc of a pulsing spring. An apple, a reach, a bite, a worm.

A robin, a song, a home, a storm.

A mess, a basket, a watch, a wait.

IMG_1904 copy IMG_1905 copy

A winter, a spring.

ch1

Book-O-Beards: A Wearable Book

Book-O-Beards by Donald Lemke and Bob Lentz by Donald Lemke and Bob Lentz

Guys. So if book-gifting isn’t a thing for April Fool’s Day, then it totally should be. These books aren’t a joke, but they are a huge bunch of laughs.

Here they are in action:

How funny is that? Such clever design. A perfect accessory.

Book-O-Beards by Donald Lemke and Bob Lentz

Hipster popularity aside, these punchy beards provide a secret identity for the preschool set. It’s dress up meets poetry meets a barrel of laughs.

And these guys don’t stop there! Beards have some series teammates in Book-O-Hats, Book-O-Teeth, and Book-O-Masks. Book-O-Beards by Donald Lemke and Bob Lentz Book-O-Beards by Donald Lemke and Bob Lentz

 

Sure to spice up story time!

ch

Flashlight and an interview with Lizi Boyd

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd

by Lizi Boyd (Chronicle Books, 2014.)

I really love Lizi Boyd’s work. It’s this perfect mix of oh, of course and oh, I never. Once upon a time I wrote about Inside Outside over on Design Mom, and I’ve been looking forward to this new book for a good while. It’s a great thing to have room for more.

And can you stop looking at that cover? I can’t. It’s beckoning, it’s comforting, it’s hurry-up-and-get-adventuring.

So I was lucky enough to have a chat with Lizi Boyd about creating books, the sound of picture books, her process, and her dogs. Thanks for welcoming your book to the world with us this way, Lizi.

CLICK TO READ MORE

Alphablock

Alphablock by Christopher Franceschelli, art by Peskimo

published 2013, by Abrams Appleseed

Alphablock Alphablock This book. Swoon city. Hefty chunk of graphic design. Just as fascinating and fantastic for adults as well as the stubby fingers of the littles. “You’re never too old for picture books” is my constant battle cry at school. Let’s amend that a bit to “you’re never too old for board books.”

Because wow. Alphablock Alphablock Can you see what’s happening here? Each letter of the alphabet is given two thick spreads for the hint and the reveal. It’s a visual puzzle, linked by a die-cut of the hero letter. For real. Alphablock Alphablock Figuring it out is a satisfying read, and physically flipping the letterform for the answer is brilliant. Alphablock Alphablock Not only does the design feel fresh, but the alphabet choices are newfangled, too. I love S is for SCISSORS and the cut-out arts and crafts that accompany it. P is for PENCILS gets the lined paper treatment, scattered with sharpened pencil shavings. And thank goodness F is for FISH gives us a glimpse into an aquarium with its kooky accoutrements, and not the obvious deep blue sea scene. Alphablock

Image courtesy of Abrams Appleseed

Image courtesy of Abrams Appleseed

Image courtesy of Abrams Appleseed

Image courtesy of Abrams Appleseed

(And any book that uses U is for UNDERWEAR is obviously a hands down favorite, too.)

Add this to your gift-list. Perfect for babes and art buffs alike. (And pretty much anyone who loves the alphabet.)

ch

Review copy provided by Abrams Appleseed.

Waterloo & Trafalgar

Tonight was for writing this post and watching some football and thinking about orange and blue. And then this commercial comes on TV. (Well, this one is a few years old. Same flavor, though.)

Remember this. It means something in a bit. I promise I don’t care where you buy your life insurance. Waterloo and Trafalgar

by Olivier Tallec

{published 2012, by Enchanted Lion Books}

Waterloo & Trafalgar is at once spare and very much not. It’s a book about unnecessary fighting and the two stubborn sides who forget why they are even at odds. They are suspicious, bored, but always staid. Until. A snail, a bird, a different perspective. Different looks a little bit the same after all. Waterloo and Trafalgar Tallec’s goofy little men end up as a charming shout for peace. They are absurd. They are us.

Waterloo. Blue. Trafalgar. Orange. Opposites. Enemies. Waterloo and Trafalgar colorwheelThere they are, as far from one another on the color wheel as possible. Direct opposites. Complementary colors.

Orange and blue are a combination of dominance, because each is competing for the attention of your eye. One cool, one warm, constant attention-grabbers. Because of their stark contrast, each truly shouts. Waterloo and Trafalgar That’s why it’s a duo you see in a lot of advertising for banks, credit cards, and other Important Things. Would that Northwestern Mutual commercial be as strong if it were in a different color palette? Probably not. They want to imply strength, power, and – well, life.

And, ahem. I’m a fan of these two colors. Note my blog header and the rest of this thing’s design. Those design decisions were intentional, and since you are reading this and hanging out here with me, it might just be working.Waterloo and TrafalgarPerfect choices for Waterloo and Trafalgar, right? It wouldn’t make sense for those two ridiculous little men to be represented by closer together hues. Their orange and blues are a tenuous balance.

Besides a color scheme that works, that sings, and that smacks you in the gut, this is just a darn beautiful book. The paper is thick and rich to the touch, and some split pages inside extend the stories and heighten the division at hand. Waterloo and Trafalgar I love the die cuts on the cover – those clever windows reveal these two nuts and their telescopes at the ready. And the endpapers’ narrative is subtle as it holds the story in place. The carved out holes close up by the end, and the stream of blue and orange smash right up against each other. Waterloo and Trafalgar Still different, still far apart on that wheel. Transformed into something lovely together. ch MoreToRead

Ok, ok. One more orange and blue moment I love is the opening title sequence to the James Bond flick, Quantum of Solace.

breaker(These titles are created by a studio whose motion design work is just spectacular, MK12. They are the creative minds behind the visuals in Stranger Than Fiction and the gorgeous end titles of The Kite Runner. By the way, notice the colors in the first minute of that one!)

breakerAnd! A whole slew of orange and blue on movie posters. You won’t un-see this color palette once you start noticing it. That’s a promise prefaced with a slight apology! Here’s just one:Hugo_FilmPosters

Pinwheel

{published 2013, by LB Kids/Little Brown Books for Young Readers}

Remember Salina Yoon and her heart-tangle-upper Penguin and Pinecone? Well, she’s back in a big way this week. Tomorrow, April 16th, she has two brand new books out in the world, and trust me: they are spectacular. Penguin’s back in a new adventure, Penguin on Vacation. He’s sick of all the snowy cold, and sets off on a beach adventure. Don’t miss it!

And then there’s this one. I got a sneak peek of Pinwheel and let me show you this thing!

Die cut cover, in the shape of a pinwheel. A hint at the ingenious things to come!

What you might not know about Salina is that she is a master of novelty board books. The engineering to make these books tactile and animated on top of just utter gorgeousness? Her brain. Her artistry. Brilliant.

Pinwheel’s pages have a dial on the edge of the page. Those bright triangles lead you in a twirling direction, and when you do, the magic happens. On this particular page, those scales shimmer and change colors as if you were under the sea with them, swimming into a different beam of light with each flick of your tail.

So here, the train’s lights alert you to its journey. And see her words? Simple, lyrical, and beautiful.

But then. Just when you think you understand how this book works, this happens. A carousel horse! Pops his head out of the page and bobs up and down, up and down, up and down – until you are ready to turn the page …

…where there’s a kite dancing in the wind. Of course there is!

Pinwheel is a knockout. {And no, I didn’t really mean that to be a die-cut pun, but hey why not?! It’s kinda a good one!}

Its design is the story. Pinwheel asks you to interact, discover, and enjoy – and it’s a pleasure from the first spin to the last.

And if you are like me, and can’t get enough of this little treat, check out Salina’s Kaleidoscope. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen in a novelty book, I’m sure of it.

And! Just so you don’t have to only take my word for it, huge hot-off-the-presses congratulations to Kaleidoscope, first place winner of the novelty category for the Book Industry Guild of New York’s 27th Annual New York Book Show.

And with that, I leave you to it. You have lots of reading to do.

ch

In My Tree

by Sara Gillingham and Lorena Siminovich

Board books always scream texture to me. I imagine that is because by their very nature they are tactile…grubby little hands paw all over them. And maybe chomp on, too – but isn’t that a whole different story?

And this one is darling.

A curvy, concentric die cut is one thing. (It’s awesome.) A curvy, concentric die cut hiding a goggly-eyed orange owl? (More awesome.)

Each page turn reveals a bright color palette, contrasted with the colors of the previous page. That’s what makes those concentric circles especially dynamic.

And the collage of textures…whoa. The pages feature cut paper or fabric-like overlays which frame that felted owl with a beautiful connection.

Lovely little book. Surely you know someone HOO needs it?! (Couldn’t resist. So sorry.)

Freight Train Trip!

Susanna Leonard Hill crafted this little romp of a book, illustrated by Ana Martin Larrañaga. Susanna is a kind, giving, and hilarious part of my online writing community, and her books are just as sweet. I’m a bunch of months late for Phyllis’ World Tour, but Freight Train Trip! caught my eye…

…For two big reasons:

 

Without being an outright concept book for either color or shape, Freight Train Trip! manages to explore both while spilling a thunderous story along its tracks.   This is a sturdy, bigger board book, and it’s cut in the shape of a train. Already cool. When you open it, it’s a long skinny rectangle, also mimicking the snaking lengths of a train. It’s not such an extreme design that little ones won’t be able to maneuver the book, but the subtle nod to its content is smart.

I’m a grown woman, getting older by the nanosecond, but I went through each page and lifted the flaps. I hope this type of interactivity outlasts the iThings. The flaps reveal reactions, animations, or just fun surprises. Each one is a really nice use of shape to add physical dimension to the pages.

And the colors in Freight Train Trip! are buzzing and alive with saturation. I love how Ana Martin Larrañaga sparingly uses texture to allow the full, solid colors to stand alone.

The pages remind me of that fresh, smelly, brand new 8-pack of sharp Crayolas on the first day of school…before the paper rips and the nubs wear down and they break in two from coloring too much.

Pure hues and punchy flaps breathe vibrancy into this book. Know a little one? Know a little one who loves trains? Or colors? Or has little fingers to play with shapes? Freight Train Trip! is a fine tour.

And! If you are a writer or just love words, check out this post on Susanna’s blog revealing some edits she made in creating this book. It’s a master class in revision, pace, and pulse. And plus, her blog is just plain fun to poke.

Huff & Puff

Some girls love Ryan Gosling, I crush on Abrams Books. (Hippopposites?…Abrams!)

When I read this post, all I could muster in the comments section was, “WOW.” Seriously. Scroll down, that’s all I could say.

{Fun fact: Chad Beckerman, who wrote that post and designed Huff & Puff, also designed another favorite, Iggy Peck: Architect. And his blog is fascinating, so definitely have a look at his spot online.}

Colombian author and illustrator Claudia Rueda created Huff & Puff, and her work is so vivid and sweet.

These aren’t the three little pigs you’ve heard about before. Without being too spoiler-y, you learn a lot about them on this page prior to the title page.

Intrigued? Good.

In addition to the satisfying twist on these three little pigs, Huff & Puff is entirely interactive. Its design helps quite a bit with that, and your role is hinted at on the cover itself.

{Side note: my current circle obsession is CLEARLY seen in the trailer I recently created for Gwendolyn Heasley‘s A Long Way From You.}

Anyway. YOU get to be the wolf, huffing and puffing through circular cutouts in the pages.

Those poor pigs. Especially the first two. You know the story. But not this one:

Even their snouts are cute little circles! Such a clever way to use shape as a unifying element throughout the design of the book, right?

Hippopposites

This book is lame.

You absolutely do not want to add it to your library.

I am not one single bit of a goofball.

Wait, what?

by Janik Coat

Opposite Day, clearly.

But really? This book is SO AMAZING I WANT TO SHOUT OUT FROM THIS DUSTY VALLEY AND GO PET A HIPPO! AND KEEP SCREAMING! It’s cool to carry a board book around with your wallet and lipstick and iPhone right? Even when you have no kids?!

So this delightful little board book has a big concept, and that alone shouts contrast. Contrast just-plain-old refers to when two elements are different. Each spread of Hippopposites showcases two things that are opposites, beginning with small and large.

Too obvious? How about full and empty?

Or opaque and transparent?

And a tactile soft and rough.

My jaw dropped when I saw the very clever front and side. {No spoiler. Trust me on this one.}

I probably overuse the word ‘brilliant’ on this blog, but seriously…this just is. The bulbous red hippo with his two beady black eyes has zest and a dazzling personality. He’s a charmer. And irresistible. {Definitely not opposite descriptions.}

You definitely do not want this book.