Dromenvanger (Dream Catcher - Dutch edition of Zemlja Snova) click through to read the review, see photos, a video flick-through and my comparison to Zemlja Snova!

WORLDWIDE GIVEAWAY and Review – Dromenvanger (Dutch edition of Zemlja Snova)

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Dromenvanger is published and kindly sent to me to review by BBNC Utigevers and illustrated by Tomislav Tomic. They have also very kindly provided me with an extra copy which I’m currently running a Worldwide giveaway for on my blog until 23.59 GMT on the 31st of October, to enter please click here Dromenvanger is the Dutch edition of the original Croatian book, Zemlja Snova, the titles translate slightly differently with Dromenvanger meaning Dream Catcher and Zemlja Snova meaning Dreamland/Land of Dreams. There have been huge debates online ever since Dromenvanger was announced about whether it was the same book or a new one and I can categorically state that it is the same book with the same artwork, however, there will be a new book by Tomislav Tomic later in the year, due out in December, it currently doesn’t have an announced title but I will update you all as soon as I know anything further and if you join my Fan group for the artist then you’ll be the first to know as we have reps from the publisher in our group who make announcements from time to time. I have written a comparison post and recorded a comparison video detailing the 21 differences between Dromenvanger and Zemlja Snova, the written post can be found here and the video comparison here.

This book is one of the best I’ve ever seen. After reviewing over 300 books, there aren’t that many that manage to take my breath away, but this one still does, it’s stunning and the illustrations are just incredible! The book is just over 25cm square, the same size as the UK bestsellers, paperback, with flexible card covers and a partially coloured image from inside the book on the front cover and blank inside covers. The spine is lightly glue and string-bound and the binding is fairly tight on arrival meaning that it’s durable and hard-wearing but also a bit tricky to get to the very centre of some of the images. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads and are printed double-sided. The paper is cream, thick and lightly textured, as far as I can see it’s the same paper as is used in all Dutch edition colouring books published by this company, it’s great for pencils though it can be a bit tricky with oil-based pencils like Faber-Castell Polychromos and Holbeins but Prismacolor Premiers work brilliantly. Water-based pens don’t shadow or bleed though do test in an inconspicuous area because we all colour differently and you don’t want to ruin a picture, fear not if your pens do shadow or bleed because the illustrations certainly lend themselves well to beautiful blending and shading of pencils. The book contains 81 pages of illustrations and they are genuinely incredible! The images are all fantasy-based and include lots of dragons, mermaids, unicorns, fairies, tree-men, and so much more. Over half of the spreads are double-page designs which are either scenes, depicting all manner of things from castles to sea voyages, gnome villages to woodland, dragons to underwater scenes, or paired images that can be coloured separately but are strongly linked with the opposite page (see photos below). I could go on for days describing the imagery, there is just so much to look at, when you first look at each image you start to get a feel for the general theme of the spread whether it be a castle, village or underwater scene, but as you look closer you discover lots of hidden things from gnomes to mermaid tails, working animals or birds’ nests, flowers growing off dragons and even hidden villages. The illustrations are just packed full with details and stories and they will take you ages to colour so this book is certainly good value for money! The ink is very permanent and doesn’t transfer even with very hard pressure from pencils and the paper doesn’t dent or curl either so it’s very good quality. The line print quality is good too with smooth lines throughout and no pixelation to be found! While a few of the spreads do enter the spine, care has been taken in the majority for them to not enter it, or for there to not be much detail there which is ideal for people who can’t bear to break the spine in order to colour the entire page.

In terms of mental health, wowee, I found this book exceptional! It offers so much to look at that it’s the perfect distraction for even the most persistent symptoms and it just draws you in to a magical fantastical world filled with mythical creatures, princes and princesses, castles, fairies and more. The more you look at the images, the more you see and the more you get drawn in and it’s done wonders for my anxiety during what has been a very challenging and anxiety-filled week. This book will be ideal for those of you who love fantasy colouring and also nature because so much of it is animal and scene-based so it’s combined 2 of our favourite things into one incredible book! The line thickness is consistent throughout and is thin with spindly thin details (it’s pretty similar to the linework in Johanna Basford’s books), the illustrations are very detailed and intricate so there are lots of tiny spaces which you can colour within or colour over if you prefer to use them as texture underneath your colour. You will need pretty good vision and fine motor control in order to enjoy this book and you’ll need some good sharp pencils so that you don’t go over the lines too much. I would highly recommend investing in a T’Gaal sharpener so that you can keep your pencils as sharp as possible! There are plenty of natural stopping points so this book is ideal for those with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels as you can colour one flower, all of the bricks or an entire dragon, you can also focus on a single page or go all out on a double-page spread. The pages for the most part are pretty busy and there’s loads to see so it can be a little tricky at times to identify all of the parts and sections so you will need good concentration for that part to ensure that you’re colouring a petal and not a foot accidentally! The content of the illustrations is totally absorbing and this book will look just incredible when it’s finished cover to cover. I adore this book, even just flicking through the pages gets me out of my head and calms my anxiety down and colouring it is just so much fun because you can use any colours you fancy from more natural colours to fantastical colours like blue for tree trunks and oranges or purples for leaves, in a fantasy world the only limit is your imagination and these images will look amazing no matter what colours you choose!

Overall, I can’t recommend this book highly enough, it’s a genuine work of art and the new paper means that you can use pens or pencils with beautiful effects. The artwork would appeal to male and female colourists and is highly fantasy-based with a strong storybook theme and lots of natural imagery. The drawings are incredible and you’ll be hooked once you’ve seen inside! I’ve included lots of images from inside below as usual but this book really has to be seen to be believed so do check out my flick-through video below.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s currently unavailable on Book Depository and Amazon UK but you can sign up for email alerts from Book Depository via the link below to be informed when it’s back in stock. Alternatively, you can order through Bol, a Dutch site which can be translated if accessed through Google Chrome. I will update details about availability as soon as I know more and the quickest and easiest way of finding out this information will be to join my fan group where 1500 avid fans of the book are eagerly awaiting its sale on Book Depository and will be sure to post as soon as they see it is.
Amazon UK – Dromenvanger 
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/book/9789045321868/?a_aid=colouringitmom
Bol.com – https://www.bol.com/nl/p/dromenvanger/9200000080026444/?suggestionType=typedsearch#modal_open

Join my Fans of Zemlja Snova Facebook Group here.

You can see my videos of unboxing the book, a silent flick-through and my comparison to Zemlja Snova if you click on the relevant word.

Don’t forget, I’m running a Worldwide giveaway to win a copy of Dromenvanger by Tomislav Tomic, to enter click here by 23.59 GMT on October the 31st.

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Click through to see my unboxing and video flick through of Dromenvanger, Dutch edition of Zemlja Snova by Tomislav Tomic

Dromenvanger (Dutch edition of Zemlja Snova) Unboxing and Video Flick Through

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Today I received two copies of Dromenvanger, the Dutch edition of Zemlja Snova. I will be running a Worldwide Giveaway for a copy soon (subscribe to my blog and to my FB page for updates about this) as well as reviewing it and posting a comparison about the similarities and differences between this and Zemlja Snova. Below you can see my unboxing video and a silent video flick-through of the book.

Pre-order a copy on Book Depository with free worldwide delivery – https://www.bookdepository.com/book/9789045321868/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Join my Fans of Zemlja Snova Facebook Group here.

World Mental Health Day 2017

Today is World Mental Health Day and I’ve been umming and ahhing for days about whether I was going to post anything. The theme this year is mental health at work so I kind of opted myself out of writing anything because I don’t exactly have much to say on the matter having been out of work for 3.5 years specifically because of my mental illnesses. But, it seems like a wasted opportunity if I don’t write anything. I’ve been very good at opting out of writing things recently, I’m never quite sure what to say and then my anxiety takes over and decides that anything I might say isn’t worth saying and that no one will read it and if they do they’ll be bored or judge me or even unsubscribe from my blog and so the urge to write quickly dissipates and I go back to my reviews, watching tv or feeling a bit lost and unproductive.

I wanted to write something today because even though today is the one day of the year where the mentally ill are most celebrated, most accepted and most listened to, our mental illnesses still work their hardest to crush our spirits, silence us, and even make us feel like we’re not part of the accepted mentally ill group. That’s certainly been my experience today and has been for any awareness days or special events for at least the last year. I fall very nicely in the box of mentally ill and therefore you’d really think that today is the day I get to stand proud, shout from the rooftops and use my blog to do what I set it up for 3 years ago, to raise awareness, increase understanding, and reduce stigma. But instead, all day, I’ve felt a bit rubbish, quite low and I’ve been spectacularly unproductive. It’s 10.30 at night and I’ve not even showered or got dressed, I can’t even remember the last time I shaved my legs (it’s literally been weeks) and I’m surrounded by used mugs, bowls, plates and an empty crisp packet. You’re probably now either judging me or feeling sorry for me and wondering if I’m getting worse again, the truth is, that I’m not. I’m fairly stable currently and about the best I’ve been in the last 3.5 years but this is often my reality, I’m not tidy, I don’t have the capacity to be, I don’t keep on top of all the things I should and I’m a truly terrible housewife. Mental illness doesn’t switch off for our awareness days, we don’t suddenly become capable, functioning human beings if that isn’t our current norm, in fact today, for me, has been worse than any other days in the last few weeks, I’ve been doing a great job of showering every day, of clearing used crockery out of the lounge and getting at least a few bits done for reviewing but that really hasn’t happened today and I’ve only just realised that it’s probably because it’s WMHD and I’ve not known what to write about.

I’m afraid this post doesn’t really have a point, I don’t have a message to get across today, nothing huge to blow your mind or make you think differently. I just very much feel that I should write something and so this is it, rambly, messy, confused, very much like the inner workings of my mind. I can’t even keep my email inbox tidy, I currently have 82 unread emails, many dating back months! I’ve read all of them but I mark them as unread when I can’t deal with them immediately so that I don’t forget to deal with them later only I then get overwhelmed by how many there are, feel guilty that I’ve taken so long to respond to people or worried that I’ll offend people if I don’t want to review their books or can’t because I get so swamped. It’s such fun being an anxious person! On Thursday last week I was interviewed by BBC Radio 4 for You and Yours and the interview was aired yesterday. I told almost no one that I was doing this because I was so nervous about how it would sound. I was told by those I did tell that I should be announcing it on my blog, on my Facebook pages, emailing family, but I just couldn’t. To me, that seems big-headed, and I was terrified that I would sound awful and people would judge me and I didn’t want that so I said nothing. When I was listening to the programme I was sat colouring trying to keep myself calm and remembering to breathe. It was actually pretty good in the end and I’m really pleased with the reaction I’ve had from people since so it was most certainly worth doing but it’s a shame I had to feel so bad ahead of time. I don’t remember much of yesterday after the interview because I was still so wired and keyed up that my brain was all mushy and I couldn’t concentrate on anything I was doing well enough to actually commit it to memory, this is the story of my life, it’s why I was so worried about the interview itself because when I’m anxious I don’t know what I’m saying, my filter goes and I don’t remember things well so I could have said anything and I wouldn’t have known!

I don’t even cope well with good news most of the time, my body just gets flooded with adrenaline and I don’t know what to do with it. I end up pacing around and flapping my hands a lot, I can’t sit still and will keep getting up and sitting down, wiggling my feet, making weird noises, rocking, anything that gets some of the nervous energy out. My partner got offered a new job last week that we’ve been desperately hoping he’d get for months. I was so excited when he phoned to tell me, it was better than Christmas (and I really love Christmas!) but within an hour I was worrying that it would fall through or that he’d fail his medical for some unknown reason or that they’d just rescind the offer. He’s got his medical tomorrow and we should know very soon after that if it’s all going ahead and then he’ll finally be able to sign contracts, I’m hoping that will calm me down and my condition will stop making me think the absolute worst. I don’t even believe those things will happen but my conditions really do and so I’m forced to sit and think about the possibilities and how we’ll deal with them and what we’ll do if he hands in his notice and then ends up jobless. It’s exhausting and relentless! Anxiety doesn’t let you just be happy. This is the best news we’ve had in months, possibly years, I should be on top of the world, but instead the anxiety creeps in and takes over my thoughts. It’s really no fun.

However, in happier news, my “anxious eyes” (previous readers of my blogs will know that this is how I describe my visual hypervigilance) meant that when I went for a walk with my mum at the weekend, I was able to find some fly agaric mushrooms that we’ve both wanted to see our whole lives, hiding in some brambles that we were able to photograph. I even found a discarded horseshoe, almost entirely buried in mud which I’ve “rescued” and brought home to wash and clean up and add to my “collection” of objects from walks, it currently joins a deer antler that I found a couple of months back. I did have a panic attack whilst out because I found a spider crawling on my hand and then another on my cardigan later on but apart from that I managed well and had lots of lovely chats with my mum. Being outside is so good for me when I’m in natural places, it’s just so difficult trying to keep the anxiety at bay, I jump at every noise, I get stressed out by insects or animals getting too close to me, I hate coming across dogs which I’m terrified of, it’s a really difficult juggling act of being desperate to be outside the four walls of my flat and trying to do deal with all of the ridiculous things that being outside makes me anxious about. The photography definitely helps but it can also be frustrating because I don’t have a good attention span when I’m anxious and therefore I can get bored or move on from a subject too quickly before getting decent shots; I nearly threw things in frustration when I couldn’t get my camera to focus on most of the mushrooms we found and just ended up giving up and trudging about a bit.

So there you go, I’m not quite sure what this post has turned into, it’s kind of an update, kind of an explanation and a bit of awareness raising too. I’ll leave you with the link to my radio interview and some pictures of the mushrooms I found with my mum. A snippet of me speaking can be found at 00.43 and the actual interview can be found at 09.19 minutes in. Do let me know what you think of it!

Ivy and the Inky Butterfly by Johanna Basford, click through to read my review, see a video flick-through, photos and read my comprehensive comparison post detailing 31 differences between the UK and US editions.

Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: Comparison between the UK and US Editions

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Ivy and the Inky Butterfly will be released worldwide in just one week and I have been lucky enough to be sent a copy of the UK and US editions by Johanna Basford in order to write this comparison post for you all. Every time Johanna releases a new book there are huge online debates about which edition is “best” to buy, what the similarities will be and what will be different so I’m here to hopefully clear up any questions and queries you may have after the success of my comparison posts of the last 3 titles – Johanna’s ChristmasMagical Jungle, and Lost Ocean.

This is a long post because there are so many pictures included to illustrate each point but please bear with me because a lot of time and effort has gone into being as thorough as possible, if you’d prefer to watch a video where I talk through and show all of the differences then click here. Most of the things I’ve noticed don’t affect the enjoyment or use of the book, they’re just differences but there are a few items that are fundamentally different and do affect use so keep an eye out for those, they’re summarised at the bottom. Some of the very noticeable differences include size, image size and paper type so here goes with the most comprehensive list of similarities and differences that you’re likely to find online!

Click here to read the rest of the post on my dedicated Colouring Blog.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available to pre-order here:
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Ivy and the Inky Butterfly
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Ivy-and-the-Inky-Butterfly-Johann-Basford/9780753545652/?a_aid=colouringitmom
US Edition
Amazon UK – Ivy and the Inky Butterfly
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Ivy-and-the-Inky-Butterfly-Johann-Basford/9780143130925/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Colour (UK Edition) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Colour is illustrated and very kindly sent to me to review by Johanna Basford, it is published by Virgin Books. I have also been sent a US edition of the book and will write a comparison post just as soon as I can, do subscribe to my blog on the right-hand side to be the first to know when it’s live. This book is the sixth colouring book illustrated by colouring queen, Johanna Basford and this meant it was time for a bit of a change, this time it’s a different shape, somewhat different style and contains a story that she’s written based on a bedtime story she’s told her daughter Evie but what isn’t different is the charm, beauty and wonderfulness that we’ve come to expect from Johanna’s books, this book has those in spades!

The book itself measures 21.5 x 25cm making it the same height as the UK editions of Magical Jungle and Johanna’s Christmas but almost 4cm narrower as it’s not square. It’s paperback with flexible card covers with ½ French Flaps which open out front and back to reveal a flower, leaf and butterfly design that is fully colourable, this isn’t waxy and is very smooth so it should be fully colourable with most mediums including pencils and water-based pens, be very careful with alcohol markers bleeding through to the external covers. The spine and covers are white with black text, the cover has coppery/bronze foiling accents which is quite subtle and very luxurious and aids the traditional storybook feeling! The spine is glue and string-bound which makes it very durable and easier to open out flat so you can reach the majority of the gutter and colour it. The paper is the same as that used in UK editions of Magical Jungle and Johanna’s Christmas, this paper was found through a global hunt and it’s beautiful, it is not the same paper as used in the US editions of these books which was created specifically for Johanna’s books and named after her. The paper is a very pale ivory colour, it’s a medium thickness and lightly textured and it’s perfect for pens and pencils; pencils are a dream to blend and shade with and pens go on really smoothly, they don’t bleed through unless you use alcohol markers and water-based pens only shadow if you colour too much in one spot, as always, do check all of your mediums on the colour palette test page to check how your mediums behave.

Upon opening the book, you find the beautiful title page, followed by the introduction and name page, the copyright page is at the back at the bottom of the End page. There isn’t an official treasure hunt in this book but Johanna has hidden over 200 butterflies throughout the pages for you to find, some are very obvious and some are much better hidden and there aren’t any answers or clues to where they are so you may be left scratching your head if you can’t find them all. The images are printed double-sided throughout, I know lots of people aren’t a fan of this but it really wouldn’t have worked with single-sided pages as the story wouldn’t have flowed and the book would have weighed a ton, as it is it contains 120 pages so it’s much thicker than all of the previous titles and has so much content packed in that this could be a lifetime project!  The story has been written by Johanna and it’s thoroughly lovely, exciting and far more complex than I expected. I’m not sure what age range it’s aimed at but there is some fairly complex language included so at a guess I’d suggest probably age 6-8 and above, and possibly older if the children are wanting to read it themselves, depending on their reading ability. The text isn’t on every page and those it is on it’s been very cleverly incorporated and illustrated around so that it doesn’t feel like a colouring book with text shoe-horned it, it feels like an illustrated storybook with images on every page and text on the vast majority. The images vary a huge amount, this book has by far the largest range of content of any of Johanna’s books and it’s absolutely packed with different items to really challenge you to learn to colour all sorts of types of things including gems, metal, feathers, fur, skin, water, and so much more. The images are also drawn in a huge range of styles including ribbons, centralised images, full double-page scenes, mandalas, symmetrical sections, portrait-style images, illuminated manuscripts, borders, frames and more. The content of the images matches the story and without giving too much away, this involves Ivy following an Inky Butterfly out of a portrait, through a hidden door and into a magical world where she meets some lovely friends and creatures and encounters a gigantic flower garden, a magpie shop owner, a mouse, elves, dragons and more. The images contain all manner of things including flowers, leaves, mushrooms, food, lanterns, trinkets, bees, tree houses, stilted water houses, jewellery, maps, stars, berries, a griffin, treasure, and owl, I could go on forever! This book does still have a lot of flowers, leaves and trees but there are so many other things interspersed that you can certainly give your green pencils and pens a bit of a rest and start learning all sorts of techniques to really challenge yourself and make things look realistic if you wish. The images are truly beautiful, I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit flicking through this book for the last few days and every single time I find more items I didn’t notice before. One thing I really noticed and which I’m absolutely in love with about this book is the subtle nods to all of Johanna’s previous books, from a picture of flamingos on the wall in the Wonder Room and another of elephants (both from Magical Jungle), to the cuckoo clock on the wall that was pictured in Johanna’s Christmas, a crab postcard, fish and ships in bottles like those found in Lost Ocean, there are dragons, castles and treehouses similar to those in Enchanted Forest and flower upon flower from Secret Garden (as well as heaps of new ones, don’t panic), none of the content feels samey, boring, or repetitive, but it’s so lovely to have little reminders of the previous books which really helps tie them all together and certainly made me wonder if all of those previous books might have been places and lands that Ivy, or her grandfather might have travelled to in the past. Some of the images are really packed with illustrations and others are much more open with space to add your own imagery or backgrounds if you wish. There aren’t a great deal of images of Ivy because Johanna knows that a lot of us struggle with colouring skin tone and she’s not a fan of drawing people though she’s done a fabulous job of all of the images of Ivy that there are but this book certainly isn’t intimidating for those of us whose current level of skin-tone colouring is a block of peachy-pink!

In terms of mental health, I’m not sure this book could be better, it offers a great project in a number of ways and it is so distracting. The story itself is absolutely lovely and very absorbing, the images follow it really well but also leave plenty of room for you to use your own imagination and get lost in Ivy’s journey to Enchantia. The images are all different sizes so this book is really adaptable for those with fluctuating conditions and these range from small motifs of one bee or a couple of fish, all the way up to completely packed double-page spreads that have almost no un-illustrated spaces and everything in between, no matter how you’re feeling you’ll be able to find a section that’s suitable and that will give you a sense of accomplishment. You can really use this book to challenge yourself to learn new techniques if you wish but it’ll look equally beautiful block coloured in your brightest, weirdest colour combinations, the sky really is the limit! For those of us who often struggle to know what to colour or pick a page it could be a great idea to work through this book cover to cover and just colour each page in turn so that you don’t have to keep deciding, or you can just dive in to your favourite page and start there, it really doesn’t matter. I know a lot of people want to fully colour a copy of this book as a gift for children in their life and having now seen the book, this would make the most amazing gift and heirloom that children for years to come would adore and cherish but my goodness is it an undertaking, it’ll take such a long time to complete but it’ll be so worth it and you could even start it off for a child and then get them to carry it on. What a wonderful experience it would be to read the story and colour the book together! The line thickness is the same as always, thin and sometimes spindly thin. The intricacy and detail levels have increased again since Magical Jungle and are much more similar to Secret Garden and the less detailed parts of Lost Ocean so you will need pretty good vision and fine motor control because while the intricacy and detail levels do vary throughout, the majority are quite high because of the sheer amount of content and objects in each image. I have personally found this book really calming, the story is very reminiscent of those from my childhood and nostalgia can be very comforting, it’s just really heart-warming both in the words and the imagery and it really helps your worries melt away, it lifts your mood and the world doesn’t feel like such a dark place for a while, it’s perfect!

Overall, I really can’t recommend this book enough, it’s beautiful and I know some people were a bit upset about it having text added this time but it adds so much to the book and loses none of the illustrative content because of the larger number of pages. You don’t need to have kids or be a child to enjoy this book, I don’t have kids and my goodness have I been enjoying it, especially knowing that no one will be “adding” to my colouring or dog-earing the pages but it’ll make a wonderful project or gift for the children in your life if you choose to share it with them. Johanna really has outdone herself, the new objects and types of imagery are fantastic and really add a lot to the book and I honestly can’t express just how beautiful and perfect this book is when it’s actually in your hands, I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with it!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Colour
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Ivy-and-the-Inky-Butterfly-Johann-Basford/9780753545652/?a_aid=colouringitmom
US Edition
Amazon UK – Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Color
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Ivy-and-the-Inky-Butterfly-Johann-Basford/9780143130925/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured with Staedtler Ergosoft Coloured Pencils.

Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Color (US Edition) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Color is illustrated and very kindly sent to me to review by Johanna Basford, it is published by Penguin Books. I am also being sent a UK edition of the book and will write a comparison post just as soon as I can, do subscribe to my blog on the right-hand side to be the first to know when it’s live. This book is the sixth colouring book illustrated by colouring queen, Johanna Basford and this meant it was time for a bit of a change, this time it’s a different shape, somewhat different style and contains a story that she’s written based on a bedtime story she’s told her daughter Evie but what isn’t different is the charm, beauty and wonderfulness that we’ve come to expect from Johanna’s books, this book has those in spades!

The book itself measures 21.8 x 25.4cm making it the same height as the US editions of Magical Jungle and Johanna’s Christmas but almost 4cm narrower as it’s not square. It’s paperback with flexible card covers with ½ French Flaps which open out front and back to reveal a flower, leaf and butterfly design that is fully colourable, this isn’t waxy and is very smooth so it should be fully colourable with most mediums including pencils and water-based pens, be very careful with alcohol markers bleeding through to the external covers. The spine and covers are white with black text, the cover has mint green text backgrounds and beautiful gold and green foiling which is really luxurious and aids the traditional storybook feeling! The spine is glue-bound which makes it quite stiff on opening because the covers are glued a little to the front and back pages of the book, you’re likely to need to crack the spine in order to get the book to open fully but do be very careful because pages can fall out of glue-bound spines and that would be a bit of a disaster if you want to keep the story in order! The paper is the same ‘Johanna Basford’ paper as used in the US editions of Magical Jungle and Johanna’s Christmas, this is not the same as the paper used in the UK editions of any of these books which was sourced through a global hunt to find a suitable ivory paper. The paper is a pale ivory colour, it’s a medium thickness and lightly textured and it’s perfect for pens and pencils; pencils are a dream to blend and shade with and pens go on really smoothly, they don’t bleed through unless you use alcohol markers and water-based pens only shadow if you colour too much in one spot, as always, do check all of your mediums on the colour palette test page to check how your they behave.

Upon opening the book, you find the beautiful title page, followed by the introduction and name page, the copyright page is at the back at the bottom of the End page. There isn’t an official treasure hunt in this book but Johanna has hidden over 200 butterflies throughout the pages for you to find, some are very obvious and some are much better hidden and there aren’t any answers or clues to where they are so you may be left scratching your head if you can’t find them all. The images are printed double-sided throughout, I know lots of people aren’t a fan of this but it really wouldn’t have worked with single-sided pages as the story wouldn’t have flowed and the book would have weighed a ton, as it is it contains 120 pages so it’s much thicker than all of the previous titles and has so much content packed in that this could be a lifetime project!  The story has been written by Johanna and it’s thoroughly lovely, exciting and far more complex than I expected. I’m not sure what age range it’s aimed at but there is some fairly complex language included so at a guess I’d suggest probably age 6-8 and above, and possibly older if the children are wanting to read it themselves, depending on their reading ability. The text isn’t on every page and those it is on it’s been very cleverly incorporated and illustrated around so that it doesn’t feel like a colouring book with text shoe-horned in, it feels like an illustrated storybook with images on every page and text on the vast majority. The images vary a huge amount, this book has by far the largest range of content of any of Johanna’s books and it’s absolutely packed with different items to really challenge you to learn to colour all sorts of types of things including gems, metal, feathers, fur, skin, water, wood, and so much more. The images are also drawn in a huge range of styles including ribbons, centralised images, full double-page scenes, mandalas, symmetrical sections, portrait-style images, illuminated manuscripts, borders, frames and more. The content of the images matches the story and without giving too much away, this involves Ivy following an Inky Butterfly out of a portrait, through a hidden door and into a magical world where she meets some lovely friends and creatures and encounters a gigantic flower garden, a magpie shop owner, a mouse, elves, dragons and more. The images contain all manner of things including flowers, leaves, mushrooms, food, lanterns, trinkets, bees, tree houses, stilted water houses, jewellery, maps, stars, berries, a griffin, treasure, and owl, I could go on forever! This book does still have a lot of flowers, leaves and trees but there are so many other things interspersed that you can certainly give your green pencils and pens a bit of a rest and start learning all sorts of techniques to really challenge yourself and make things look realistic if you wish. The images are truly beautiful, I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit flicking through this book for the last few days and every single time I find more items I didn’t notice before. One thing I really noticed and which I’m absolutely in love with about this book is the subtle nods to all of Johanna’s previous books, from a picture of flamingos on the wall in the Wonder Room and another of elephants (both from Magical Jungle), to the cuckoo clock on the wall that was pictured in Johanna’s Christmas, a crab postcard, fish and ships in bottles like those found in Lost Ocean, there are dragons, castles and treehouses similar to those in Enchanted Forest and flower upon flower from Secret Garden (as well as heaps of new ones, don’t panic), none of the content feels samey, boring, or repetitive, but it’s so lovely to have little reminders of the previous books which really helps tie them all together and certainly made me wonder if all of those previous books might have been places and lands that Ivy, or her grandfather might have travelled to in the past. Some of the images are really packed with illustrations and others are much more open with space to add your own imagery or backgrounds if you wish. There aren’t a great deal of images of Ivy because Johanna knows that a lot of us struggle with colouring skin tone and she’s not a fan of drawing people though she’s done a fabulous job of all of the images of Ivy that there are but this book certainly isn’t intimidating for those of us whose current level of skin-tone colouring is a block of peachy-pink!

In terms of mental health, I’m not sure this book could be better, it offers a great project in a number of ways and it is so distracting. The story itself is absolutely lovely and very absorbing, the images follow it really well but also leave plenty of room for you to use your own imagination and get lost in Ivy’s journey to Enchantia. The images are all different sizes so this book is really adaptable for those with fluctuating conditions and these range from small motifs of one bee or a couple of fish, all the way up to completely packed double-page spreads that have almost no un-illustrated spaces and everything in between, no matter how you’re feeling you’ll be able to find a section that’s suitable and that will give you a sense of accomplishment. You can really use this book to challenge yourself to learn new techniques if you wish but it’ll look equally beautiful block coloured in your brightest, weirdest colour combinations, the sky really is the limit! For those of us who often struggle to know what to colour or pick a page it could be a great idea to work through this book cover to cover and just colour each page in turn so that you don’t have to keep deciding, or you can just dive in to your favourite page and start there, it really doesn’t matter. I know a lot of people want to fully colour a copy of this book as a gift for children in their life and having now seen the book, this would make the most amazing gift and heirloom that children for years to come would adore and cherish but my goodness is it an undertaking, it’ll take such a long time to complete but it’ll be so worth it and you could even start it off for a child and then get them to carry it on. What a wonderful experience it would be to read the story and colour the book together! The line thickness is the same as always, thin and sometimes spindly thin. The intricacy and detail levels have increased again since Magical Jungle and are much more similar to Secret Garden and the less detailed parts of Lost Ocean so you will need pretty good vision and fine motor control because while the intricacy and detail levels do vary throughout, the majority are quite high because of the sheer amount of content and objects in each image. I have personally found this book really calming, the story is very reminiscent of those from my childhood and nostalgia can be very comforting, it’s just really heart-warming both in the words and the imagery and it really helps your worries melt away, it lifts your mood and the world doesn’t feel like such a dark place for a while, it’s perfect!

Overall, I really can’t recommend this book enough, it’s beautiful and I know some people were a bit upset about it having text added this time but it adds so much to the book and loses none of the illustrative content because of the larger number of pages. You don’t need to have kids or be a child to enjoy this book, I don’t have kids and my goodness have I been enjoying it, especially knowing that no one will be “adding” to my colouring or dog-earing the pages but it’ll make a wonderful project or gift for the children in your life if you choose to share it with them. Johanna really has outdone herself, the new objects and types of imagery are fantastic and really add a lot to the book and I honestly can’t express just how beautiful and perfect this book is when it’s actually in your hands, I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with it!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
US Edition
Amazon UK – Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Color
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Ivy-and-the-Inky-Butterfly-Johann-Basford/9780143130925/?a_aid=colouringitmom
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Colour
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Ivy-and-the-Inky-Butterfly-Johann-Basford/9780753545652/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured with Holbein Artist’s Colored Pencils.

Ivy and the Inky Butterfly – Unboxing and Flick-Through

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available to pre-order here:
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Ivy and the Inky Butterfly
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Ivy-and-the-Inky-Butterfly-Johann-Basford/9780753545652/?a_aid=colouringitmom
US Edition
Amazon UK – Ivy and the Inky Butterfly
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Ivy-and-the-Inky-Butterfly-Johann-Basford/9780143130925/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Winterkleurkaarten (20 Winter Cards) by Jessica Palmer, click through to see photos, video and my written review

WORLDWIDE GIVEAWAY and Review – Winterkleurkaarten: 20 Ansichtkaarten & Enveloppen (Winter Colour Cards: 20 Postcards and Envelopes)

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Winterkleurkaarten: 20 Ansichtkaarten & Enveloppen (Winter Colour Cards: 20 Postcards and Envelopes) are published and very kindly sent to me to review by BBNC Utigevers. They have also very kindly provided me with an extra set and an extra copy of Schemertijd Kleurboek by Maria Trolle which I’m currently running a Worldwide giveaway for on my blog until 23.59 GMT on the 10th of October, to enter please click hereThis set of cards is illustrated by Jessica Palmer, the hugely talented illustrator of Tangle Wood, Tangle Bay, and Tangle Magic. These cards arrive in a gold card box with an image of one of the cards on the front, this box is a little bit flimsy and did get a bit squished on its travels to me, however, none of the cards or envelopes were damaged. The box contains 20 cards, these are not greetings cards, they are square postcards that are single-sided with a design illustrated on the front, and text at the top on the back saying Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in Dutch, along with the copyright information at the bottom. The 20 plain white envelopes fit the cards perfectly and will be ideal for giving or sending the cards to others. The cards are made of bright white, lightly textured, medium thickness card, it doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens but will with alcohol markers so do be aware of this, pencils, especially oil-based ones or those with harder leads, are very difficult to colour with on this card and require a lot of patience as the lack of tooth makes it difficult to layer or blend, my Prismacolor Premiers worked pretty well but I really struggled with Holbeins which seemed to clump and not colour evenly. The images themselves are all drawn in Jessica’s beautiful signature style and are really varied in content, some are winter-themed and the majority are Christmas themed. As always, none of them include people but rather beautifully anthropomorphised animals in humanesque scenes from ice-skating foxes to a mummy rabbit bearing cake and presents, badgers sharing a candlelit dessert to dancing herons, dogs decorating a Christmas tree to daddy bear reading a bedtime story to mummy and baby bear, each card is different from the last, they all feel similar because of Jessica’s drawing style but the content really does vary between each one. These cards are different from any imagery you’ll see on normal Christmas cards, or any colouring Christmas cards and they really are something special!

In terms of mental health, these cards offer a great, manageable project, they’re small enough not to be overwhelming, but large enough that they’re not coloured in seconds and you can take your time colouring each section without needing days to do so. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is thin and spindly thin. The intricacy and detail levels do vary a little across the images as well as within them but mostly they’re very intricate with lots of small details so you will need very good vision and fine motor control to enjoy these cards. You will need pretty good concentration to get the most out of them, some of the cards consist of lots of fine details that can be a little tricky to decipher if your focus is elsewhere so I’d suggest leaving those cards to colour on your better days. Colouring cards are a great project because not only do you get to enjoy colouring them, you can then send them to others and share the joy or even send them uncoloured to a friend who might need a little push to start colouring, they’re great for spreading some happiness and colouring love! The shape of them would make them ideal to frame if you wish, they could be a lovely added extra to your Christmas decorations or a really personal touch for your loved ones.

Overall, I would highly recommend these colouring cards, they’re beautifully drawn and really varied in content and they’re a lot of fun to colour, you will need good vision and hand control but these are really worth taking time over to make them perfect and they’re ideal for pen colourists! If you liked Jessica’s Tangle series of colouring books then you’re sure to love these cards!

If you’d like to purchase a set, they’re currently unavailable on the usual sites though they are listed there so do sign up for email alerts and they’ll tell you when they have them in stock, hopefully it’ll be soon! If you just can’t wait then you can order from Bol.com, below.
Amazon UK – Winterkleurkaarten: 20 Ansichtkaarten & Enveloppen
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Winterkleurkaarten/9789045322070/?a_aid=colouringitmom
Bol.com – Winterkleurkaarten

Don’t forget, I’m running a Worldwide giveaway to win a set of these cards and a copy of Schemertijd by Maria Trolle, to enter click here by 23.59 GMT on October the 10th.

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils  and Holbein Artist’s Colored Pencils.

Schemertijd Kleurboek, Dutch edition of Skymmingstimman by Maria Trolle, Click through to read my review, see photos, video, and enter my giveaway for a copy by 10/10/17

WORLDWIDE GIVEAWAY and Review of Schemertijd Kleurboek (Skymningstimman Målarbok)

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Schemertijd Kleurboek is published and kindly sent to me to review by BBNC Utigevers. They have also very kindly provided me with an extra copy of this book and an extra set of Winterkleurkaarten by Jessica Palmer which I’m currently running a Worldwide giveaway for on my blog until 23.59 GMT on the 10th of October, to enter please click here. This book is illustrated by Maria Trolle and was originally published in Sweden by Printworks with the title Skymningstimman which roughly translates as Twilight/Dusk Hour, the book reviewed here, Schemertijd, is the Dutch edition. This book is most similar to Maria’s first title, Blomstermandala (Published in English as Twilight Garden) and has the same format as that, therefore much of my review is the same, skip to paragraph two for information about the content of this title. I don’t have the Swedish edition of this book and am therefore unable to comment on any differences between the two though I would assume these are minimal based on what I’ve seen of the Swedish edition online from others.

The book itself is just a little smaller than A4, measuring 21.8 x 25.7cm, it’s hardback with very sturdy thick covers with a black background and partially coloured image from inside the book with gold foil accents on the front and back and the blurb also written in gold foiling. The spine is covered in black tape with beautiful debossed gold writing, it is glue and string-bound and attached to tape within the hardback binding so it’s very durable but a little tricky to get the book to lie flat and reach the very edge of the image in the gutter. The images are printed double-sided throughout and are mostly single page designs with some double-page spreads, a whopping 32 pages have black backgrounds, this is roughly every third double-page spread so those who like colouring ‘midnight’ pages will adore this book! The paper is cream, thick and very lightly textured, water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow but do always test in an inconspicuous area because we all colour differently. Pencils go on smoothly but oil-based pencils can be a little tricky to blend and layer due to lack of tooth, experienced colourists will manage to get stunning results though I’m sure and my Prismacolor Premiers worked very well.

This illustrations are all based in nature and consist of various different styles from wreaths to scenes, centralised images and portrait style pictures, the imagery is absolutely stunning and this book feels just a little more polished than Blomstermandala, it really is lovely! There is so much pictured within the pages that it’s hard to even begin to make a list but some of the things illustrated include: tree houses, nests, squirrels, butterflies, peonies, deer, fairies, frogs, rabbits, birds, mushrooms, owls, bees, ferns, foxes, pussy willow, snowdrops, waterlilies, spider webs, and even dragons. There are countless flowers and plants included and at the back of the book is a double-page spread with all of the pages numbered and a list of all of the flowers pictured in each so that you can easily identify them and colour them accurately if you wish which is a major plus point of this already fabulous book! The images are drawn in a mostly realistic style but some are slightly surreal in context with women pictured with nests in their hair, a girl sat in the centre of a sunflower, owls nestling in a peony’s leaves and lots more; these quirky scenes are lovely to look through and give a really whimsical feel to the book, some of the images have a beautiful childlike charm and this is aided by some of the cute and quirky characters included which we first saw in Maria’s book about Vivi finding a friend (Vivi Soker en Van and Dutch edition, Droomreis), but all are adult level colouring rather than basic or boring. Much of the imagery consists of anthropomorphised animals in humanesque scenes and situations. The sheer amount of different content means that you’re offered a huge variety of things to colour from practising skin tones and fur to feathers and water, if you want a book to challenge you out of your comfort zone then this is ideal. Equally though, this would look gorgeous block coloured or with minimal blending and shading, or with a touch of added sparkle from some glitter gel pens so don’t be put off if you’ve not mastered fur, I haven’t yet but I’ll be giving it a go in this book. A few of the images have dots on to indicate shading and these are very useful, especially for beginner colourists to learn where light and shade can be placed in an image.

In terms of mental health, this book is just fantastic because it’s so centred around nature and is inherently very calming and relaxing. Even just looking through the book soothes my mind and noticeably slows it down and it really helps distract you from any negative thoughts or difficult symptoms. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is thin but not spindly thin so there is a little leeway for slight issues with vision and fine motor control though you will need a fairly high level of both of these but not perfect! The intricacy and detail levels vary throughout from large open spaces all the way down to small spaces but nothing is teeny tiny and none of the sections would be impossible to colour separately if you wish. The imagery is just beautiful and I absolutely love it, there’s a lot of variety but all centred around the same floral garden theme which makes it feel really cohesive and it’ll look incredible coloured cover to cover! The images are often made up of lots of component parts which is ideal for those of you with poor concentration or symptoms that make completing a whole page too daunting or difficult and you can easily colour one mouse, hedgehog or daffodil and still get a sense of achievement. On better days you can tackle a whole page or even a double-page spread so this book is filled with lots of different size projects. A number of the images are centralised images with space around them where you could add your own backgrounds, there are no written hints so this is by no means obligatory but the option is there if you wish, the images do of course look finished without any additions though.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to people who love Maria’s colouring books and who love nature. The illustrations are beautiful and they’re drawn in a mostly realistic style which makes them ideal for realistic or surreal colour schemes. If you like pretty images of flowers, animals and plants then you’re sure to love this book, it’s gorgeous and utterly charming from beginning to end!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book, it’s listed below, it seems to be taking a while for Amazon and Book Depository to be getting stock (this also happened with Droomreis which is now available on Amazon UK) but it is available currently at bol.com (direct link below).
Amazon UK – Schemertijd Kleurboek
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Schemertijd-Mari-Trolle/9789045322674/?a_aid=colouringitmom
Bol.com – Schemertijd

Don’t forget, I’m running a Worldwide giveaway to win a copy of this book and a set of Winterkleurkaarten by Jessica Palmer, to enter click here by 23.59 GMT on October the 10th.

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils  and Pan Pastels for the background.

The Wellbeing Journal: Creative Activities to Inspire – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Wellbeing Journal: Creative Activities to Inspire is published and kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This journal has been created in partnership with the mental health charity, Mind, all royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to them and thus, by purchasing it, you can not only help yourself (more on this later), but also the countless number of us who are mentally ill in the UK and further afield who are supported by Mind and their tireless work to raise awareness and reduce stigma about mental illness. The book itself is 14.7 x 19cm (just smaller than A5), paperback, with flexible card covers with pictures of brightly coloured birds and branches. The journal is printed double-sided and contains a mixture of single and double-page spreads. The paper is bright white, smooth, and medium thickness, it shadows and occasionally bleeds with water-based pens and pencils don’t work brilliantly unless you use graphite or soft leads due to the smoothness. The majority of the pages in the journal have space to write or draw, some are plain with borders or corner imagery and others are lined, scattered throughout are pages filled with colourful patterns or bright drawings of plants and animals. There are also lots of written activities and self-help suggestions including: relaxing your body, drawing how you’re feeling, organising your time, identifying your stress triggers, and lots more, all of these things may seem simple to people who are well, but it’s often the most basic of tasks, especially anything that involves self-care that those of us who are mentally ill struggle with and it’s great to have prompts all written in the same place for us to refer to when needed. A few colouring pages are scattered through the journal and a number of inspiring and uplifting quotes that might help you look at the world a little differently or remind you that it’s not quite as dark or hopeless as you might feel.

In terms of mental health, this journal couldn’t be much better, it’s been designed with mental health in mind and the tips included are genuinely useful for helping yourself to feel just a little bit better. Journaling is often credited as being great for mental health, it’s not something I’ve ever managed to regularly stick at but I certainly find blogging helps me make sense of things and writing things down can be really useful for this so having a dedicated space to do that interspersed with tips, quotes and activities to keep you perked up is ideal. This journal would be a great present for yourself (get started on the self-care journey by investing in this as something that can help you help yourself), or for others around you who might be struggling with self-care or mental health, it’s perfect for letting someone know you’re thinking of them and starting the conversation about mental health and letting them know that it’s ok not to be ok and it’s also ok to talk about it. The journal is not only a fabulous place to write down your thoughts, feelings, and symptom diary, you could also use it as a place to write down additional self-care tips, strategies, and activities, you could even get people around you who care about you to write nice messages in it for you to read when you’re having symptomatic days and need a boost! The journal is a great size for popping in your bag for journaling on the move or having a portable self-help guide. The tips included are sadly not likely to cure you, they may not even make a huge difference to how you’re feeling, but without trying them, you’ll never know, and starting to care about yourself and for yourself is notoriously difficult when you’re very unwell, therefore having written suggestions of basic things you can try can be a really useful tool for helping yourself feel just a little bit better, even just for a moment!

Overall, I would highly recommend this journal, the paper quality is slightly disappointing but other than that I can’t fault it, the content is great, with a good mix of activities and tips, and space for writing or drawing and if nothing else, the bright colours printed throughout might just brighten your day for the briefest of moments. It would make a wonderful present to yourself or others and better still, by purchasing it you’re helping support a wonderful mental health charity, it doesn’t get much better than that!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Wellbeing Journal: Creative Activities to Inspire
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Wellbeing-Journal/9781782438007/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured with Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

Mermaids in Wonderland: 20 Postcards – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Mermaids in Wonderland: 20 Postcards is published by Harper Design and illustrated and kindly sent to me for review by Marco Chin. This is the second set of postcards by Marcos who previously illustrated the Fairies in Wonderland Postcards, this set is identical in format and therefore much of my review is the same, skip to the second paragraph for information about the content. This set of 20 postcards contains scaled down artwork from Marcos’s original Mermaids in Wonderland book which you can read my review of HERE. Each postcard is printed single-sided with a beautiful seahorse, a dotted stamp area and address lines on the back so that you can send them to family, friends and loved ones. The postcards are not perforated but are removable with a similar glue to that of note blocks which means they can be removed with a nice clean edge ready for sending or displaying, it also means the book lies nice and flat for colouring. The postcards are made of thick, white card which didn’t bleed at all with my water-based pens and only very lightly shadowed with alcohol markers! The line thickness remains spindly thin throughout which is somewhat problematic. I have very good vision for small, close things, and also have very good fine motor control but a few of the images on these postcards are so tiny that they’re almost impossible to colour and you’re certain to go over the edges. This is a shame because I’m a huge fan of the imagery and I just love the illustrations but scaling down the images to postcard size wasn’t the most sensible choice because it’s quite limiting. The postcards are beautiful to look at and would be gorgeous to send or display as they are but given that they’re sold as colouring postcards, I expect to be able to colour all of them and I will struggle to do that neatly with a few of them. That being said, the images are very beautiful and are definitely worth putting the time and effort into to get them perfect and if you don’t colour each section individually and colour over some off the pattern instead then a lot of the problem is alleviated.

The images chosen for these postcards are a good selection from the book and contain a number of beautiful mermaid images, as well as the crab, starfish, dolphins, shells and more, and unusually, 6 of the images have black backgrounds. There is a very good mixture of mermaids and creatures, though I would have liked to see a few more mermaids pictured, given the title, only 14 of the images actually contain mermaids. The riddles from the book aren’t added to this postcard book but a few of the images do contain letter keys which are fairly subtle and certainly don’t detract from the beauty of the images. The colouring book contains 4 removable postcards and these are identical to 4 within this set so if you have the book already you’ll be getting 16 new cards in this set and 4 that duplicate those in the colouring book.

In terms of mental health, I would recommend the majority of these postcards but you will need very good vision and fine motor control to enjoy them because they are extremely intricate and detailed. You will also need pretty good concentration and focus because these postcards take a surprisingly long time to colour given the size of them. They take less time to colour than the images in the book do but they’re still very time-consuming, however, this is great for distraction, each postcard is like a window into the mermaid world and if you let it, you can be really absorbed into it and away from any difficult symptoms or thoughts. All in all, I would recommend this postcard book to those of you with very good vision and fine motor control. The pictures are a challenge to colour because of the intricacy but they will look beautiful coloured and would be lovely to send to people, or frame and you could frame the uncoloured ones very nicely too. The card is lovely and thick and great for pens and pencils and it’s a nice format for these delicate images.

If you’d like to purchase a set they’re available here:
Amazon UK – Mermaids in Wonderland: 20 Postcards
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Mermaids-in-Wonderland-20-Postcards-Marcos-Chin/9780062565662/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you love the imagery but these are just too intricate why not take a peek at the original book:
Review – Mermaids in Wonderland Colouring Book
Amazon UK – Mermaids in Wonderland
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Mermaids-in-Wonderland-Marcos-Chin/9780062465603/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Silent video flick-through of the whole book below.

The image below was coloured with Bic Marking Alcohol Markers and Promarker Alcohol Markers.

Mermaids in Wonderland: A Coloring and Puzzle-Solving Adventure for All Ages – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Mermaids in Wonderland: A Coloring and Puzzle-Solving Adventure for All Ages is published by Harper Design and illustrated and kindly sent to me for review by Marcos Chin. This is the second book my Marcos who illustrated Fairies in Wonderland last year, this book is identical in format and therefore much of my review is the same, for information on the content in this book, please skip to paragraph two. This book is square, the same size as the bestsellers and paperback with a card cover with 2/3 French flaps which open out to reveal a white background mermaid design inside the front cover, and a black background mermaid design inside the back cover. The paper is bright white and medium thickness, it doesn’t bleed with water-based pens but does shadow sometimes so do be careful. The paper is smooth with no visible tooth at all, it is a bit tricky to blend and layer with pencil but if you work slowly and remain patient then it is possible to get some lovely effects, I have had to press harder for block colouring than I’m used to in most books but overall, it’s not too bad. The spine is glue and string-bound this time and the images are borderless so a little of each image is lost into it, the spine does ease up with use and unlike with purely glue-bound spines, the pages don’t fall out when they’re also stitch-bound which is a welcome change! The images are printed double-sided and a large number of them are double-page spreads but there are a large number of single pages too.

The book contains 96 pages and the images contain a number of written riddles with keys hidden throughout the illustrations which spell out the next clue when unscrambled correctly so this is kind of a treasure hunt, set of riddles and colouring book in one. The riddles cleverly arrange each section of images into a ‘chapter’ because they’re each set in a different place and also run from day to night, with a whopping 37 pages having black backgrounds to indicate night time. The images are beautifully drawn and pretty but not girly, they’re very delicate and contain lots of natural elements like sea creatures, plants and corals. The images are set in a variety of places including the sea bed, an underwater hair salon, a dance performance, a carousel, a Chinese dragon procession, an archery lesson, a cocktail party, and more! There is a whole heap of content with a huge variety of things pictured including winged mermaids, hot air balloons, starfish, lobsters, dolphins, whales, crabs, corals, shoals of fish, swordfish, jellyfish, just to name a few! The mermaids also vary throughout from beautiful mermaid ladies adorned in jewellery to dancing and gymnastic mermaids and those flying hot air balloons, the majority are female but there are a few males pictured too. The images are beautifully cohesive and stunningly drawn with a great deal of detail and thought. At the back of the book are two perforated half pages, each with two postcards on them which can be removed and coloured, these are a great addition to the book but sadly, they are identical to four of the postcards that are printed in the 20 set of colouring postcards that accompany this book, this isn’t a problem, it’s just a shame that they aren’t different.

In terms of mental health, this book is really calming and beautiful because it’s so grounded in nature whilst also being wonderfully fantastical. There is a huge amount of intricacy and detail so this is definitely a book for those of you with good vision and fine motor control as the line thickness is also thin, verging on spindly thin at points. There are some large spaces in the images including the hot air balloons, some fish and the mermaid tails if you colour over the scales rather than colouring each individually but mostly the images consist of lots of teeny tiny bits and most aspects are surrounded by a thin border so you will certainly need some fineliners or well-sharpened pencils for this book. Most of the images are of scenes and these don’t have a lot of space for you to add your own drawings or backgrounds, but a few of the images are of centralised illustrations with large spaces left around them where you could create your own backgrounds and scenes if you wished. There are no written hints so this is by no means obligatory and the artwork looks finished as it is but there is space to add your own bits if you wish. I found this book particularly calming and absorbing and the mermaid world really does draw you in and offers wonderful escapism. The illustrations are beautiful and you’re sure to spend hours lost in a faraway miniature land where symptoms of mental illness melt away and dark or anxious thoughts are left at the door.

I would highly recommend this book to all mermaid-lovers and those who like intricate and detailed pages to colour. You will need good vision and fine motor control and pencils and fineliners are a must for this book to be able to complete the stunning images. Get lost in Marcos’s Mermaid Wonderland, you may never want to leave!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Mermaids in Wonderland: A Coloring and Puzzle-Solving Adventure for All Ages
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Mermaids-in-Wonderland-Marcos-Chin/9780062465603/?a_aid=colouringitmom

There is also a set of 20 accompanying postcards which are also currently available:
Review –
Amazon UK – Mermaids in Wonderland 20 Colouring Postcards
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Mermaids-in-Wonderland-20-Postcards-Marcos-Chin/9780062565662/?a_aid=colouringitmom

My video flick-through of the book can be found here.

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners, Stabilo 68 Fibre-Tips and Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils.

Exploratorium - Ideal for child and adult colourists, fans of Doodle Fusion and Kerby Rosanes's artwork will love this book. Click through for the review, video and photos!

Exploratorium: A Search and Colour Mission – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Exploratorium: A Search and Colour Mission is illustrated by Lei Melendres and published and kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This book is 25cm square, the same size as the bestsellers, paperback with black covers and coloured elements from inside the book on the covers. The spine is glue and string-bound and relatively tight but it does become more pliable with use so that you can reach the majority of the image to colour it. The images are printed double-sided and all of them are double-page spreads. The paper is bright white, medium thickness and lightly textured, it takes pencil well and water-based pens don’t bleed but do shadow a little so you may not want to use these but it should get covered when colouring the other side. This book is primarily aimed at children, however, the images are pretty detailed and packed with content and therefore plenty of adults will love it too. The book starts with a short introduction explaining the premise of the book, it’s a search and find colouring mission so there are a list of objects depicted which can be found within the pages. Following this, each double-page spread is dedicated to a different world and these drastically range in theme from space and future-themed to prehistoric and historical, there are heaps and heaps of scenes from a circus to haunted house, alien invasion to science lab, candy land to the North Pole, skate park to volcano and time travel to under the sea and so much more, there is a really wide scope to the content and something to suit everyone. Lei’s art style is most similar to Kerby Rosanes’s and is very much drawn in a doodle style, the images are packed with alien creatures and strange forms and the content is really quirky, whimsical and fun. The search and find aspect is surprisingly difficult for a book that’s aimed at children, my boyfriend spent ages searching for the items in one of the spreads and in the end had to give up on the last one and look at the answers, luckily there are thumbnail pictures of the spreads at the back that identify where the hidden creatures and objects are so there’s no need for frustration if one or two elude you.

In terms of mental health, this book is pretty good, the pages are packed with content and are very distracting, there’s loads to look at, to hunt down, and then to colour and this book really will keep you occupied for hours. It’s certainly not a calming book so those of you with anxiety or a racing mind may want to keep this book for calmer days but the content is quite invigorating so those suffering from low mood may well be perked up by the humour often depicted and added into the scenes. The line thickness is fairly consistent within each page but differs between them as do the intricacy and detail levels, all have a lot of content but some are much more detailed and fine-lined than others so do check out the photos and video flick-through as you’ll need fairly good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book, it’s certainly not well-suited to young children, probably advanced 8 year olds and up. While the content isn’t nature-based, the fantasy elements and imagination of it all are great for absorbing you into a far off land in the past or future which is often better than the here and now and is great for keeping your mind busy and focused on the task at hand rather than any troublesome thoughts or symptoms you might be experiencing. A lot of the images are filled with wacky, surreal creatures and therefore don’t have a “real” colour scheme that you need to follow so you can really go to town and use any colour you fancy and it’ll look equally fabulous and even the realistic aspects can be spiced up by unusual colour schemes like trees with blue trunks and orange leaves, purple pumpkins or red rocks, just grab a pen or pencil and get colouring and you’ll soon be fully immersed in this intricate, doodle-filled world.

Overall, I would highly recommend this to older kids and adults, it’s great fun to hunt the hidden items and to colour and the different scenes make for a really varied colouring experience with each scene being different from the last and transporting you to a far off place. This book is surreal, wacky and a joy to colour for the young, the old, and everyone in between!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Exploratorium: A Search and Colour Mission
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Exploratorium-Lei-Melendres/9781910552759/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can see my silent video flick-through of the book here.

The page below was coloured using Staedtler Fibre-Tip Pens.

Staedtler Ergosoft Pencils: 36 Set Click through to see the 12 new shades and read my review!

Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Coloured Pencils: 36 Colours – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Coloured Pencils: 36 Set are made and kindly sent to me to review by Staedtler, a well-known German Stationery brand. These pencils are endorsed by Johanna Basford (colouring queen) so I was very excited to see what all the fuss is about and if they’d live up to expectations. The pencils are wax-based, I usually prefer oil-based but these (and Prismacolor Premiers) are definitely changing my mind. They have triangular barrels which are entirely coated in the exact colour of the pencil lead so they’re very easy to identify with little need for a colour chart. Each side of the pencil carries printed information: Staedtler ergosoft, space to write your name (ideal for kids or those going to art classes who want to identify their own supplies easily), and the colour number. The pencils arrive pre-sharpened and are very easy to sharpen in a normal sharpener, despite the triangular shape and they sharpen to a really nice point. The pencils are now available in 36 different colours and I was sent the 36 set to review which come in a single layer tin (ideal for having out whilst colouring and not losing your pencils). Other sets available are the 12 set in a blue stand-up box, the 12 set in a cardboard box, the 24 set in a Johanna Basford themed cardboard box and 24 set in a blue stand-up box, the pencils are also available as open stock meaning you can order one or two to trial before buying a full set if you’re unsure. The ergosoft pencils are also available in watercolour so do check what you’re ordering, I will be reviewing the watercolour ergosoft pencils at a later date (the major visible difference between the two is that the watercolour pencils have a blue barrel and a coloured tip – see photo below).

The pencils themselves are smooth to touch and the ergonomic triangular design makes them very comfortable to hold which is ideal for those of us with joint problems, issues with grip strength or easily dented fingers, I have lots of problems with the shape of pens and pencils, especially when colouring for long periods of time for reviewing, and these are one of the comfiest sets I’ve come across. The pencil leads have a white coating which adheres the leads to the wooden pencil sheath and this protective coating helps to reinforce the lead core in order to prevent breakage. I have used these pencils for a long time and have had no issues with breakage or problems with sharpening so these are very well-made. The leads are quite hard but they have a good vibrant pigment meaning you get a bright colour without needing a lot of pressure. However, because the leads are quite hard, you do need to use quite a bit of pressure when colouring toothier paper so I’d advise these for smoother paper if you have joint problems or you’re going to have to press quite hard to get a bold, full colour with no white gaps. I also noticed that while the pigment is very vibrant, you do get a wax bloom when using the hardest pressure and this makes blending more difficult than with oil-based pencils because you can’t get many layers before the wax bloom builds up so much that it interferes with colour lay down.

The pencils do blend fairly well together but you will need to be careful with your layering because the wax builds up quickly. Because the pigment is so bright, it’s quite difficult to get a pale even coverage with a thin layer on toothy paper so these pencils are much better for vibrant, burnished colouring, rather than pale, thin layers. They erase very well, even when coloured and burnished, obviously some pigment is left but a surprising amount is removed with very little effort so these pencils would be ideal for those who regularly colour over the lines, or who want to create highlights in their work. These pencils are in the mid-range price category and vary hugely in price. They’re quite expensive when full-price but when on sale they’re much more affordable and better value for money and if you can get a set on sale then I’d highly recommend them. These are definitely a great wax-based pencil.

The pencils used to only be available in 24 colours and there have been lots of questions in the colouring community about what shades are now included in the new 36 set. A really good range of colours have been added across the spectrum and pretty much one of each colour has been added in to help fill in the gaps that were there before so there is now a better range of greens, we have a lilac, a beautiful turquoise and two new browns amongst others. You can see the added colours in the photos below as well as the mandala page which I coloured exclusively with the 12 new colours, they look a little strange on their own because none of them are core colours, they’re all in-between shades to fill in the gaps but in conjunction with the other 24 pencils they look beautiful and the set covers a really good selection of colours with very few shades now missing that you can’t ‘mix’ by combining a couple of the pre-existing colours. For those who already have the 24 set, who are wondering whether it’s worth investing in this new set (sadly the 12 new colours aren’t available as a set on their own though you can buy all of them open stock), I would suggest that yes, it’s definitely worth getting them, the new shades are really useful, the tin is a great way of storing them and having extra colours is always a huge bonus, I think we’re all hoping that Staedtler will add further colours at a later point though this hasn’t been announced but there are 60 colours in their watercolour set so we can dream!

If you’d like to purchase a set, they’re available here:
Amazon UK:
Set of 24 in blue stand up box
Set of 12 in blue stand up box
Set of 36 colours in tin

To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again: The Longest Colouring Book in the World – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again is illustrated by Good Wives and Warriors of the Escape To… series and published and kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This book is a really unusual format with only two others that I’m aware of on the market like this, both of which are smaller. This book is paperback with flexible card covers, the covers are portrait but the pages are landscape, they are all attached together and folded in a concertina so that they make one continuous strip of images stretching out for a full 17ft, I’ve never seen anything like it (you can view my silent video flick-through of the whole book here)! The pages fold into A4 size and the book consists of 15 pages in total, all joined together, they’re easy enough to colour because you can keep them folded and therefore just have two pages ‘showing’ at once which makes it a much more manageable size to contend with though it is still a little tricky and may require a table or a large lap tray. The images are printed single-sided and make up one continuous scenescape. The paper is white apart from the sky in the images which gradually changes colour through the pages from white to a dark teal-blue, this transition is seamless and I didn’t actually notice it until the second time I looked through, the backs of all of the pages also fade through from white to the same dark teal-blue colour which is a nice touch. There is no spine to contend with, just folds and these are very easy to colour over so you don’t lose any of the image and can colour its entirety. The paper is white, thick and smooth, it doesn’t have any visible texture but seems to take pencils well and you can happily blend, shade and layer them, water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow and you can use alcohol markers if you wish as the pages are single-sided and therefore bleeding won’t matter, just pop some protective sheets behind so that it doesn’t bleed through to any other pages. The image is a continuous scenescape journey that takes you from a house with a pretty garden around various landmarks from around the world and delves into folklore and mythology and pictures of all sorts of weird and wonderful things. There is such a wealth of imagery that it’s hard to even know where to start when describing it all, there are llamas, dragons, jackalope, wolves, deer, mountains, the pyramids, a sphynx, totem poles, an Aztec calendar, peacocks, rivers, Chinese dragons, sea serpents, lizards, turtles, otters, walruses, Easter Island statues, cacti, snakes, the Arctic, elk, polar bears, geese, igloos, penguins, and finally ends back at the house which is filled with animals and souvenirs from the trip and a space to write your name in a This Adventure Belongs To box.

In terms of mental health, this book isn’t for the faint-hearted, it really is one hell of a project and will be better suited to those of you without concentration problems and those who don’t mind spending time on a project for a really long time as there’s no quick way of getting this book coloured. That being said, it offers a great level of distraction, there is so much to look at within each section and I know I’ve not yet seen even half of what’s pictured despite looking through it heaps of times, there’s just such a lot of content packed in that you always notice new things. The line thickness is consistent throughout and remains thin. The intricacy and detail levels vary a little within the scenescape but mostly remain at a very high level with some really small sections and lots and lots of components making up each section, you will therefore need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book. The content is a great mixture of realistic animals and scenery and mythological creatures and surreal settings, this combination lends itself well to realistic or outlandish colour schemes and you could even mix media and colour each page differently or even each type of imagery, the sky is the limit! The images are so wide-ranging that it’s almost like loads of different colouring books in one and you’ll always be able to find something you fancy colouring in here if you have a look through. There are lots of natural stopping points because the whole scenescape is made up of lots of component parts so you can easily colour just one creature or type of flower or work through it systematically from beginning to end, it really is up to you.

Overall, this book is amazing, it’s unlike any others and it’s just packed with content and different things to colour. It offers an amazing project which isn’t for the faint-hearted but it’ll look amazing when it’s finished and be so worth all of the time and effort you’ll need to put in.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/the-Ends-of-the-Earth-and-Back-Again-Good-Wives-And-Warriors/9781786270351/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like to see the full book then you can find my silent video flick-through here.

The image below was coloured using Staedtler Ergosoft Coloured Pencils.

From the illustrator of Birdtopia, Into the Wild is just as quirky and surreal, click through to read the review and see more images.

Into the Wild: An Exotic Woodland Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Into the Wild: An Exotic Woodland Colouring Book is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This book is the second brought to us by artist Daisy Fletcher who illustrated Birdtopia last year which was one of the most unusually formatted books I’ve seen during my time reviewing. This second book, Into the Wild is formatted in the same way (detailed description of this below) but this time rather than being focused on birds, it’s a whole lot more exotic and wide-ranging in content – to illustrate this I’ve recorded a video flick-through which can be found HERE as well as a full written review and photographs as usual. This book is a little larger than A4 at 23.5 by 31cm, paperback with sturdy card covers with a gold foiled title. The paper is bright white, thick and lightly textured, the paper takes pencil very well and allows for lots of light layers which makes blending a breeze and even better, there’s absolutely no shadowing or bleed-through with water-based pens, unless you use very dark colours, which is a huge bonus! The really strange part of the formatting is that the paper is white and the colouring spaces are left white but all of the backgrounds are printed in a strong cream colour. These backgrounds don’t feel printed and there isn’t a weird surface to the paper so you can still add your own background with pencil or pastel or any other mediums you normally use, but it means the uncoloured pages look quite strange and different from any other book I’ve seen. The images are printed double-sided and some are full page images and others are small illustrations somewhere in the middle of the page. There is a mixture of single page and double-page spreads and the spine is glue and string bound and is very durable but a little of many of the images is lost into it though with some bending it does loosen up a lot.

The book starts with a This Book Belongs To… page and then contains 76 images of animals, flowers, and other wildlife and plants, the last two pages have a beetle printed on each and open out to reveal a fabulous four-page woodland scene including lots of deer, giant mushrooms, a griffin and even two unicorns! The images contain a huge number of different animals from hares to butterflies, deer to otters, fish to chipmunks, wolves to leopards, horses to lynx and lots more. Some of the images are drawn to scale with butterflies and flowers drawn in a realistic scale and others have varied scale with deer perching on flowers and owls sitting on mushrooms so there is a real variance in scale and realism in the scenes. Each double-page spread includes at least one animal, usually many more, and at the back of the book there are thumbnail pictures of each image with the names of each of the animals and many of the plants and flowers that are included which makes them easy to identify and research if you want to colour them realistically. In addition to the line drawings, there are also a few, quite strange, greyscale animals and background plants (this time there are no fully coloured elements), these greyscale items almost look photoshopped into the images (see photos below), these features can be coloured over if you wish, they certainly aren’t the majority and there are fewer in this book than in Birdtopia. None of this is a criticism of the features, and I don’t dislike it, it’s just very unusual and different from anything I’ve seen before (other than Birdtopia) and therefore worth commenting on.

In terms of mental health, this book is pretty good because of the information at the back of the book identifying what each animal is so that you can head to google and get searching for the accurate colour schemes if you wish. This means that colouring can be very relaxing and thought-free as you’ve got a ready created colour scheme that nature has handed you on a plate that can be found with a quick internet search. The natural images are lovely and relaxing and are sure to ground you and calm you down. The sometimes unusual arrangements are quirky and intriguing and these are almost energising as you ponder the surrealism of them. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is spindly thin so you will need very good fine motor control to enjoy and fully utilise this book. The intricacy and detail level varies throughout from large open spaces to teeny tiny sections so this book will only really suit those of you with good vision. The images themselves vary in size hugely so this a great book for those of you with fluctuating conditions because you can do some of the smaller images on your bad days or tackle the full four-page spread on your good days and everything in between. There are lots of large open spaces around the images where you could add your own drawings or backgrounds and there are no drawing hints so these images look and feel finished but you can add to them if you wish.

I would highly recommend this book to animal and plant lovers and those who love to colour nature and natural images, who don’t mind a bit of the surreal. This book is beautifully drawn and if the cream background doesn’t bother you then this book is sure to be a winner and the paper quality is great!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book, it’s available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – Into the Wild: An Exotic Woodland Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Into-Wild-Daisy-Fletcher/9781786270849/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like to see a full silent video flick-through of the book then click here.

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils.

Johanna Basford 2018 Page a Day Calendar - Colour a small image every day of the year and display in the beautiful keepsake box - click through to read my review and see more images!

Johanna Basford 2018 Colouring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Johanna Basford 2018 Colouring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing. This page-a-day calendar arrives in shrink-wrapped plastic which keeps the keepsake box clean and free from damage. The keepsake box is made of thick ivory card which is covered all over (including the bottom) with a black line drawn flower and foliage pattern most similar to the flower scenes in Secret Garden, the top and all four sides of the box have gold foiling accents. The box opens with a hinge-style (the lid remains attached at the top) with two pieces of black ribbon holding it open at a >90degree angle; the inside of the lid and the box are lined with black paper with white flower and foliage designs drawn in Johanna’s signature style; the box is fully colourable if you wish. A black ribbon allows easy access to lift out all of the loose calendar pages which aren’t bound in any way so it’s easy to pick out which ones to colour, move them around, leave them out to dry if using wet media and so on. The pages are the same size and format as any other page-a-day calendar, the illustration is on the left and takes up two thirds of the page and on the right at the top is a leafy-lettered title of the month and at the bottom is the date and day, above this in small text are written the important festivals and celebrations and the country they’re celebrated in; as with all others, Saturday and Sunday share a page so there are approximately 312 pages of colouring for you to complete over the year. The pages are pale cream this time rather than bright white (they are less yellow than the Secret Garden book paper and more cream than the new ivory paper in Magical Jungle; see photo below of the different paper colours), thin (slightly thicker than copier paper), and lightly textured, pencils don’t build up many layers on this paper but I’m sure those of you who are more talented than me will have more luck with this and create wonderful masterpieces; water-based pens do heavily shadow and may bleed through if you’re particularly heavy-handed but the images are printed single-sided so really you can use whatever mediums you like, these pages would be ideal for testing out new mediums or trialling colour schemes.

The illustrations themselves are all taken from Johanna Basford’s five currently published colouring books, Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, Lost Ocean, Magical Jungle, and Johanna’s Christmas, I have carefully looked through all of the images and there is one tree that I couldn’t find in any of her books and appears not to be from one and a couple of butterfly images that have been adapted from the originals to have line drawn butterflies and blacked out ones too but apart from these 3/4 images all of the images are directly from the books. Some of them are the whole page scaled down, others are sections of the page printed at the original size, others are zoomed in sections which are printed larger than the original so there is a really good mix of detailed sections, larger spaced illustrations to practice blending and shading on, and whole pages which you’ll need your finest of fineliners and sharpest of pencils to colour accurately. The lid is designed to display the current day’s page in but it will hold plenty more pages than this so you could easily place a month’s worth in there before having to move them under the proceeding days’ pages. At the bottom of the stack are 4 pages for you to test your colouring mediums on so that you can see how the paper behaves so you don’t have to accidentally ruin any proper pages.

In terms of mental health, this page-a-day calendar is fantastic because it provides you with a manageable size of project to attempt each day, you could colour the page in a few minutes or really take your time to try out new techniques and spend much longer, it’s entirely up to you. You could colour the day’s page ahead of time or on the day itself, you could even spend the next 4 months colouring the whole thing ready to look at your beautiful work throughout the coming year, or even to gift to someone else (what a labour of love that would be and it would make an incredible present if you could bear to part with your work, perhaps you could start if off for them to finish?). The pages are a great size to practice colour schemes for your copies of the actual books, or even to try out colouring mediums on a smaller page. The loose pages make it easy to access the page you need without having to move the whole block around all the time and it means you don’t have to worry at all about bleed through. At the end of the year you could even cut out all of the images and create collages, small framed pictures or gifts or even add them to cards or craft projects so this is a really versatile product that goes way beyond just being a calendar! There isn’t a treasure hunt element in this calendar and there are no written hints for drawing though there are plenty of spaces on a number of images to be able to add your own details or backgrounds to really make the pages your own but this of course isn’t necessary and it’ll look finished without the need to draw at all. This page-a-day calendar is perfect for fans of Johanna’s work and it is a beautiful new way of using her illustrations. The line thickness varies a little throughout from thin to spindly thin and the intricacy and detail levels are often much higher than in the books because many of the images are shrunk down to fit the pages so you will most definitely need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this calendar if you’re wanting to colour it; you could of course leave it blank and just admire the illustrations because they really are beautiful to just look at with no need to add colour if that’s too challenging. The images aren’t arranged into any order and there are no duplicates, a number of the calendar pages show parts of the same original image but these are all of different aspects of it, with varying size or depicting different areas (see images below) and this is by no means the majority of the pages, most are of entirely separate illustrations or aspects within them, they also don’t appear to duplicate the images used in the 2017 edition of this calendar so those of you who already have that won’t be disappointed by duplicates. The page size is much more manageable and less daunting to colour and this is ideal for those of you with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels because these pages are much quicker to finish and likely to cause less frustration, they’re also fantastic for trying out new things without worrying about ruining a whole page in your books.

I would highly recommend this page-a-day calendar to fans of Johanna’s work and to those who love to be organised. It’s a great size and format, ideal for those who find the full-size book pages too daunting. It’s also great for practising colour schemes or using new colouring mediums and it’ll be a lovely keepsake to work through from beginning to end and see how you’ve progressed over the year it runs for; you can even remove the images afterwards and frame or gift them or even use them in craft projects and the box will make a wonderful keepsake.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this page-a-day colouring calendar, it’s available here:
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford 2018 Colouring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box
US Edition
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford 2018 Coloring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Johann-Basford-2018-Coloring-Day–Day-Calendar-Johann-Basford/9781449482787/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Can’t get enough of Johanna’s images? Below are my reviews of her new colouring planner and two new wall calendars so you can be fully organised and colour to your heart’s content for the coming year!
Magical Jungle 2018 Wall Calendar
Secret Garden 2018 Wall Calendar
Johanna Basford 2017-2018 16-Month Weekly Colouring Planner

The pages below were coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Magnetips Pens.

Johanna Basford 2017-18 Weekly Colouring Planner - a great combination of colouring and organisation, click through to read my review and see images of inside

Johanna Basford 2017-2018 16-Month Weekly Colouring Planner – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Johanna Basford 2017-2018 16-Month Weekly Colouring Planner is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing. This planner is the perfect combination of organisation and colouring with space to write plans, appointments and notes, whilst also having weeks and weeks of colouring for you to do too. This planner is paperback with flexible pale cream card covers which have a beautiful black floral and foliage design on the front and back with the negative image drawn in pale cream on the insides of the covers, the front cover has gold foiling accents and the front and back cover have removable brown card strips with the information about the planner and the barcode etc printed on them. The planner is spiral-bound and measures 21.6 x 19.6cm, the covers aren’t especially sturdy so I’d be careful about travelling with it much and you’ll want to keep it safe somewhere rather than stuffing it in a bag or it’ll get damaged very quickly. This isn’t the best planner I’ve seen in terms of features and organisation, but for the combination of colouring and organising, it’s perfect and strikes a really good balance. The planner runs for 16 months and starts from the 28th of August 2017 all the way to the 6th of January 2019. The planner is printed double-sided and starts with a one-page overview of the year 2018 and then the planner itself starts with an image on the left of each double-page spread from one of Johanna’s five colouring books, images from all five (Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, Lost Ocean, Magical Jungle and Johanna’s Christmas) are included, and the week’s days and dates with writing space for each on the right (this is in the same style as normal planners with added leafy accents and leafy lettering for the month title at the top). Each week runs from Monday to Sunday with equal space to write for each day, the dates are on the right and important festivals and bank holidays etc are written in small text on the left of the page, as well as the country it’s celebrated in. After the planner pages, which make up the vast majority of the book, there is a double-page spread with sections for each month of 2019 for you to add your advance plans to. Following this is a full page of 2017 dates and a full page of 2019 dates, followed by 5 lined pages where you can write notes (all with added leaf accents) and the final page is a colouring test page where you can test out your mediums to check for bleed through.

The paper this time is pale cream rather than bright white (it is less yellow than the Secret Garden book paper and more cream than the new ivory paper in Magical Jungle; see photo below of the different paper colours), lightly textured and medium thickness, sadly it does shadow a fair bit with water-based pens but it doesn’t bleed through; I’d strongly advise writing in pencil throughout or you’ll ruin the image on the reverse either with shadowing or indentation from ballpoint pens. Pencils work well on this paper so I’d suggest mostly colouring with pencils and using water-based pens if you don’t mind the shadowing showing through on the planner pages. A great selection of images from Johanna’s books are included with some being sections of original images at the original size and others being the whole page shrunk down to fit on the planner page so some of the illustrations are quite tricky to colour neatly but almost none look impossible as long as you use a good set of fineliners or sharp pencils. Because this is the second planner and the publisher has tried not to duplicate images it means that a number of my favourite images from her first three colouring books haven’t been included as they were in the 2016/17 planner, however, we’ve got new images from those as well as from the newer two books and there are some lovely inclusions so there’s no disappointment to be had with this planner and it really is a great mix between organisation and colouring (two of my favourite things)!

In terms of mental health, this colouring planner is ideal. It gives you a manageable goal of colouring one page per week which could either be next week’s page so that it’s coloured ready for that week or this week’s page so you can colour as you plan. You could even colour it ahead if you’re quick but you’ll need to get a wriggle on as it’s already been running for a week. The pages are a great size to practice colour schemes for your copy of the actual books, or even to try out colouring mediums on a smaller page. The spiral-binding makes it easy to access the whole page and none of the images go into the spine, it’s also ideal because once you’ve finished using the planner at the end of 2018, the pages are easy to remove for framing or gifting if you want to get more use out of your works of art. There isn’t a treasure hunt element in this planner and there are no written hints for drawing though there are plenty of spaces on a number of images to be able to add your own details or backgrounds to really make the pages your own but this of course isn’t necessary and it’ll look finished without the need to draw at all. This planner is perfect for fans of Johanna’s work and it is a beautiful way of using her illustrations. The line thickness varies a little throughout from thin to spindly thin and the intricacy and detail levels are higher than in the books because many of the images are shrunk down to fit the pages so you will most definitely need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this planner if you’re wanting to colour it; you could of course leave it blank and just admire the illustrations because they really are beautiful to just look at with no need to add colour if that’s too challenging. The images aren’t arranged into any order but a few have been cleverly chosen to fit celebrations like a heart for the week of Valentine’s Day, a skull for Halloween week 2018 and images from Johanna’s Christmas through December. The page size is much more manageable and less daunting to colour and this is ideal for those of you with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels because these pages are quicker to finish and likely to cause less frustration.

I would highly recommend this colouring planner to fans of Johanna’s work and to those who love to be organised. It’s a great combination of planner and colouring pages and the size and format is ideal for those who find the full-size book pages too daunting. It’s great for practising colour schemes or using new colouring mediums and it’ll be a lovely keepsake to work through from beginning to end and see how you’ve progressed over the 16 months it runs for; you can even remove the images afterwards and frame or gift them.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available below, there has been a delay in getting stock to retailers and therefore Johanna has released a free download of the pages for September which can be found here.
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford 2017-2018 16-Month Weekly Colouring Planner
US Edition
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford 2017-2018 16-Month Weekly Coloring Planner
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Johann-Basford-2017-2018-16-Month-Coloring-Weekly-Planner-Calendar-Johann-Basford/9781449482794/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Can’t get enough of Johanna’s illustrations and the ability to organise your life? Then check out the following reviews for two different wall calendars and a page-a-day calendar too.
Magical Jungle 2018 Wall Calendar
Secret Garden 2018 Wall Calendar
Page a day calendar

The image below was coloured using Holbein Artist’s Coloured Pencils.

Magical Jungle 2018 Colouring Wall Calendar – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Magical Jungle 2018 Colouring Wall Calendar is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing. This calendar is beautiful and is the same format as the previous JB wall calendars. The calendar itself is the same size as most others at 12 inches square, making it significantly larger than Johanna’s books. It includes 13 of Johanna’s signature and most well-known designs from her fourth colouring book, Magical Jungle (this calendar doesn’t include any new images), an illustration for each month of the year and one at the beginning for a 4-month overview of September to December 2017. I have included pictures of all of the calendar pages below so that you can decide if this is for you, as well as comparison photos of the book and calendar size. The whole calendar, including the covers, is made of thick pale cream paper which is good quality (it is less yellow than the Secret Garden book paper and more cream than the new ivory paper in Magical Jungle; see photo below of the different paper colours) – I thought it was going to bleed with water-based pens but there was no bleed-through at all and only some shadowing when using my darker fineliners. Do bear in mind, when writing on the calendar I’d strongly advise using pencil so that you don’t get bleed through onto the next month’s image, or indentation from using a biro. The images are printed larger in the calendar than in the book so this is a great purchase for those of you who found Johanna’s books just a little too detailed and small. You definitely can’t use alcohol markers because the images are all printed double-sided with the dates for the previous month on the back of the page which will get ruined by bleed-through if you colour ahead but would be fine if you colour month by month. The paper is quite smooth but has a little tooth and I didn’t have any issues with getting a few layers built up with my Holbein and Prismacolor pencils. The calendar is spiral-bound so you can easily fold it back on itself for easier colouring as it’s a little unmanageable when it’s not folded in half. Each page has a small hole at the top, this is smaller than on normal calendars and doesn’t fit a nail through it so you’ll have to very carefully hang it up with string (be careful so you don’t rip the pages). The cover has signature gold foil accents and is fully colourable, as always, and each calendar page has lots of tiny leaf accents and each month has a leafy lettering title.

In terms of mental health, this calendar is ideal because not only does it give you hours of colouring fun and distraction, you can also easily display it on your wall to brighten up even the darkest of days and you’ll get satisfaction every day looking at all of your beautiful hard work. The slightly larger image size means it’s more suitable to those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control. It’s a great project that will help motivate you with a deadline of making sure each image is ready for the first day of the following month. The pages could also be removed at the end of the year once you’re done with the calendar and could be easily framed or gifted to others to bring enjoyment for years to come. There is a small inky treasure hunt within the pages, like in the book, but I feel this was a bit of a pointless venture because some of the items you’re expected to find are the entire subject of the image e.g. one chameleon, one toucan or one tiger, rather than hidden within the image, two of the months don’t have this, January and November. Magical Jungle was Johanna’s least intricate and detailed book and while a few of the pages are quite intricate, a number of them have much larger, open spaces so there is a really good variety of images needing varying levels of concentration which can be used to keep you occupied and distracted when you’re feeling anxious or low, or requiring less focus if you need a more relaxing colouring experience. Johanna’s images are really good for practising mindfulness techniques because many require a lot of focus and time to complete meaning this calendar is ideal for those of us who are mentally ill and needing to zone out. The line thickness is thin throughout but it’s not spindly so there is a little leeway when colouring, especially in those images with larger spaces.

I would highly recommend this for any colouring fan who needs a calendar in their life. Johanna fans won’t be disappointed with this calendar, it’s beautiful with a lovely selection of designs and great paper quality and it will brighten up the darkest of rooms and moods. It would make a fabulous gift either as it is, or fully coloured for someone and it’s not only useful for the coming year as a calendar, but for years to come when you can frame your pictures to continue the joy.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it can be found here:
Amazon UK – UK Edition – Magical Jungle 2018 Colouring Wall Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide – US Edition – https://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-Jungle-2018-Wall-Calendar-Johann-Basford/9781449482800/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Can’t get enough of Johanna’s illustrations and the ability to organise your life? Then check out the following reviews for another wall calendar, planner and page-a-day calendar:
Secret Garden 2018 Wall Calendar
Johanna Basford 2017-2018 16-Month Colouring Planner
Johanna Basford 2018 Colouring Day-to-Day Calendar

The image below was coloured with Holbein Artist’s Coloured Pencils, Prismacolor Premier Pencils and a Caran d’Ache Blender Pencil.