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Millie Marotta’s Curious Creatures is published by Batsford Books who are very kindly sending me a review copy. After discovering that it had been released early in the UK in some Waterstone’s stores, I sent my boyfriend out on a mission and he dutifully delivered me a copy as I just couldn’t wait to see inside, this might seem excessive to some but I’m sure the die-hard colouring fans will understand the need to have a book the first moment you possibly can, normally I’d feel a bit silly for being so uncontrollable but this book is so beautiful that all guilty thoughts have gone out the window and I’m just thrilled to have an extra week to look through this stunning book. Everyone has their own favourites of Millie’s images and we all debate about which of her previous books is our favourite or the best, well for me, this is without doubt, the best book of hers by a big margin! So, before I get so enthusiastic that I forget to tell you all the important information, here’s my actual review.
Curious Creatures is the fourth book in Millie’s animal-centred adult colouring book series. It’s the same size and shape (25cm square) as her previous books, paperback, with flexible card covers with black and white line drawings that hint at some of the curious creatures within the pages and these illustrations have highlights of colour added as well as gold foiling on them and the title. The spine is a beautiful purple colour which compliments the other spine colours really well and they look gorgeous on the shelf together (see photo below). The covers have French flaps which each have a paired down version of the front cover on the outside and inside is a pale blue background with white line drawings of moths (this isn’t really colourable and is different from the format of Millie’s three previous titles). The spine is glue and string-bound so it’s very durable but it does mean that a little of some of the images is lost into it until it eases up with a bit of use. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads, and while I felt like there were more double-page spreads in this book, I counted and it’s actually the same number as the previous titles, some single-pages must just pair up very well and feel like they’re double pages without actually being so. The paper is bright white and lightly textured, it’s the same paper as the previous titles and doesn’t bleed but does shadow a little with water-based pens; pencils work beautifully and blend and shade really well.
The book starts with a two-page introduction from Millie herself where she explains her illustration process and how hard she found it to narrow down the choice of animals to be included. Following this are heaps of illustrations of the strangest, weirdest, most beautiful and downright curious creatures. The images include a hermit crab, Bactrian camel, chambered nautilus, sea slugs, moths, flying fish, poison dart frog, tufted puffin, jewel beetles and so much more. There are five matching spreads where there is a more detailed version on the left and a less detailed copy of the same image on the right where you can add your own details and patterns if you wish but there are no written hints so it’s entirely up to you what you do with these pages. A fabulous new feature at the back of this book is a two-page list of all of the creatures in order of their inclusion in the book. This list has the English and scientific name (Latin name) for each creature and it makes identifying them super easy and also means that you can quickly google images of each creature so you can find out what they look like if you’re keen on the natural look in your colouring; it’s also a great way of finding out more information about some of the stranger creatures on the planet and I’ve already learnt loads of interesting facts! These images feel a little fuller and more finished than Millie’s previous books, there’s a little more scenery and a little more added to backgrounds such as clouds or bubbles so the blank spaces are a bit less empty, this isn’t intrusive for those wanting to create their own backgrounds though, it just helps it look a bit more finished for those who don’t want to create their own.
In terms of mental health, this book is fantastic. There is so much to look at, so much to discover, that it’s incredibly distracting and really focuses your mind on the illustrations themselves rather than any difficult thoughts or feelings you may be having. The image content is totally absorbing and nature-based images are the best for relieving symptoms of mental illness. 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 most of 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. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is very thin so I’d advise colouring during the day or near a very good desk lamp. The images are really cohesive in their curiousness and they are truly fascinating to look through.
I can’t praise this book highly enough, I love Millie’s work and this book is absolutely stunning and just enthralling. The illustrations lend themselves to whatever colour scheme you fancy whether that be realistic, rainbow, monochrome, black and white, mixed media, or anything else you can dream up. This book has by far the most varied, interesting and intriguing content and I’m sure that it will become a firm favourite just like her previous titles, possibly even exceeding them!
If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta’s Curious Creatures
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marottas-Curious-Creatures-Millie-Marotta/9781849943659/?a_aid=colouringitmom
The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip Pens.