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Well, what can I say?! Millie’s done it again! This beautiful book, the sequel to the hugely successful and bestselling Animal Kingdom, is just stunning. This book, published by Batsford Books was kindly sent to me by them for review, so let’s start. Millie Marotta’s Tropical Wonderland: A Colouring Book Adventure is packed full of wonderful images of animals and flowers which are my favourite things to colour. Millie has a really unique style of illustrating and while I’ve seen many books and magazines cropping up that attempt to somewhat recreate her style, in my view, they all fall short in comparison to Millie’s beautiful original creations. Her books are so much more than colouring books, they are true works of art!
The only criticism I have of this book is the paper quality. Sadly, while it is bright white and seems fairly thick, pens of any kind (I haven’t tested gel pens yet) do bleed at least a little through to the image on the reverse. I am a huge fan of fineliners and despite colouring very lightly and making sure not to hold the pen in one place at any point, they bled throughout the image creating shadowing onto the back of the page and full on bleeding in a couple of places (see third image below). The images in this book are printed double-sided so choose wisely when colouring images with fineliners or stay safe and use coloured pencils to avoid ruining any reverse images. The paper is lovely and smooth and I was reliably informed by my boyfriend, who it appears may well become a colouring addict after purchasing a copy of this book for himself, that coloured pencils, even cheap ones, were really easy to use on it and gave good colour and coverage (see his coloured in cockatiels below). It is a paperback book with a glued spine and while most of the images are contained to one side of the paper, those that are double-page spreads do sadly lose some of the middle of the image into the spine (some people get around this by taking their book to an office supplier or book binding shop and getting it spiral-bound). The book itself is a large square (same size as Animal Kingdom) and contains almost 100 images to keep you busy for weeks if not years! Images include bats, cacti, water lilies, birds of paradise, a whale shark, a sloth, beetles, sea creatures and many many more, all of the things you’d expect to find in the tropics!
In terms of mental health, this book is very intricate, but don’t let that scare you. You can use pencils, fine-nibbed felt tips, fineliners and gel pens, all with great effects and the images aren’t so detailed that you’re put off or overwhelmed. If you have vision problems or issues with fine motor control then you may struggle with this book but for any of the rest of you I’d suggest giving this book a go and persevering into a more intricate world. The natural scenes of animals, flowers and trees definitely create a sense of calm and this will be one of my go-to books when I really need to focus on something and be distracted. It’s detailed enough that you have to focus and concentrate and this lends itself wonderfully to drowning out any anxious or disturbing thoughts you may want to shift. Other books that are less detailed can be good for calming, but they’re less distracting as they involve less concentration, so if you’re feeling particularly plagued then intricacy is usually the way forward, though there’s a fine line between being distracted and becoming more frustrated, so be careful. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is really quite thin so I’d advise colouring during the day or near a very good desk lamp, both my mum and I have made the mistake of thinking we can get away with colouring this book in bad lighting and realising just what a mistake it was the next morning when we’ve got gaps or gone over the lines. The cohesion of this book being illustrated by one person throughout is just lovely and means it’s not bitty or all over the place like some books made by multiple illustrators can be. It almost feels like a story is being told as you turn the pages and it really is a book to work through and finish rather than just picking out your favourite images – of course this is fine to do too.
I can’t praise this book highly enough, every time I look through it I’m struck by the beauty of the images and there are so many ways of colouring them using rainbows, monochrome, black and white, mixed media and many more. If you’re stuck for ideas then just put the title into Google Images or Pinterest and you’ll be flooded with inspiration (good luck narrowing down your choice of colours after that)! This book is highly detailed and beautifully delicate though some of the images have a detailed and less detailed copy (see the owls below) that you’re meant to add your own details to but can be coloured as they are with amazing effects and may be more suited to those who don’t have the patience or visual acuity to colour the most intricate images. Many of the patterns drawn onto the animals can be coloured over in blocks as well making them less intricate and giving your colouring texture and pattern rather than outlined spaces to colour, so the possibilities are endless. I urge you to give this book a go, you really won’t be disappointed. For those of you who already have Animal Kingdom and are wondering where to get your next creature colouring fix look no further, this is a stunning second instalment and I really hope there will be more to come in the future. You can get your hands on a copy of this wonderful book for just £6.99 here Millie Marotta’s Tropical Wonderland: A Colouring Book Adventure or if you’re new to the colouring party then Millie’s original book Animal Kingdom can be found for £3.99 here Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom – A Colouring Book Adventure and if you need a little more persuasion, my review can be found here. Happy colouring and if you have any coloured in pictures from this, or any other books that you’d like to share then head over to my facebook page, I’d love to see them! The images below were coloured using Marco Raffine Coloured Pencils, Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Scribbilicious Fineliners from The Works (UK store).