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The Isle of Wight Colouring Book: Past & Present is published and very kindly sent to me to review by The History Press. This book is one in a huge series of what looks set to be a colouring book for every county in England as well as separate books for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I have been sent two titles of the counties I’m most familiar with, Sussex, where I’m from and live currently, and the Isle of Wight where I took holidays as a child and my mum now lives. This book is 16.5 x 24cm, landscape, paperback, with a flexible card cover with a partially coloured image which oddly isn’t found inside the book. It has a durable glue-bound spine which a little of each borderless image is lost into, the spine does ease up a little with use. The paper is bright white, thick and lightly textured making it ideal for pencils and water-based pens which only lightly shadowed, alcohol markers will bleed through. The 45 images are printed single-sided and on the opposite side is the title/description of what each picture is showing which makes identification a lot easier! Each book is illustrated by a different artist and their styles can vary quite a lot judging by the differences between the two counties I have so do use the Look Inside feature on Amazon to check the books you’re looking at purchasing.
The images in this book are mostly of well-known places and buildings from the Isle of Wight, as well as a few random choices of images such as a butterfly from Butterfly World, Wootton Bridge, and a tractor on Yaverland Beach, neither of these images have any specific landscape in them and are therefore pictures of things that could be found anywhere in the country rather than specifically the Isle of Wight. However, the vast majority of the images are exactly what you’d expect, line drawings of well-known Isle of Wight places and landmarks such as Osborne House; St Catherine’s Lighthouse; The Hovercraft; Godshill Model Village; Blackgang Chine; The Needles; Cowes Week; Shanklin; St Thomas Square, Newport; Ventnor and Ryde beaches; Carisbrooke and Yarmouth Castles; and even a red squirrel. This book is a whistle-stop tour of the Isle of Wight through the countryside, across the coast, and around its historic buildings and landmarks. All of the books in the series contain images from the present and the past, and this specific title has a lot of images from the 1900’s which are great for history-lovers! The illustrations are not drawn in a typical line drawing style, they have heavy contouring added which I’m personally not a fan of because I find that it breaks up the images quite a lot and can make it difficult to distinguish exactly what each section it. Quite a lot of the images have ever so slightly hazy linework, it’s not crisp and distinct, it almost has a halo effect around it and there are also grubby marks on a few pages as if a dirty eraser has been rubbed over sections whilst trying to remove pencil lines. This is a real contrast to The Sussex Colouring Book which was printed to a very high standard so if this puts you off, please do check out the other titles as they’re all very different and issues in this book may well not affect others and could also be an issue with my copy rather than all of them.
In terms of mental health, this book is great for nostalgia and if you love the past, or the familiar and the Isle of Wight is a place that’s close to your heart, then you’re sure to love this book. The illustrations are a manageable size and don’t take days and days to complete unless you wish for them to. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is medium/thin with a few thin-lined details. The intricacy and detail levels vary throughout depending on the image content from extremely detailed and intricate in the botanic gardens and Ventnor beach, to much larger open spaces of Appuldurcombe House and The Needles. This means this book would be suited to anyone with fairly good vision and fine motor control but it doesn’t need to be perfect at all. The nostalgia and familiarity of these images means this book would be ideal for the elderly, to remind them of places from their lives, and key events, and happy days out. The images do require a fair amount of concentration but this provides great distraction and the landscape nature of the images means they’re great for escapism as you’re reminded of day trips to the beach, visits to Osborne House and your first glimpse of a red squirrel (I’m still yet to spy one). I really enjoyed just looking through the images of places I’d been on school trips to, gone fossil hunting, and walked through with my mum, it really took me on a trip down memory lane.
I would highly recommend this book to Isle of Wight lovers, the elderly, and anyone who would like to colour images of quintessentially English architecture and landscapes. This book is a manageable size and great for those with moderate vision and fine motor control.
If you’d like to colour your way through the Isle of Wight, the book is available here:
Amazon UK – The Isle of Wight Colouring Book: Past & Present
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Isle-Wight-Colouring-Book-Past-Present-History-Press/9780750967969/?a_aid=colouringitmom
If you’d like to colour other counties from the UK, then head to Amazon where all of the different titles are listed – County Colouring Books
The image below was coloured using Marco Renoir Pencils.