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Die Welt unter der Lupe – Zu Wasser (The World Under the Magnifying Glass – Water) is published and kindly sent to me to review by Bastei Lübbe. This book is the fifth illustrated by Rita Berman, a highly talented German illustrator, she previously brought us the hugely successful and utterly beautiful series of season colouring books, reviewed by me here. I had high hopes for this new book which will be joined in November by a land themed title and I wasn’t disappointed, I didn’t think that her season books could be topped but I think this new book might just have done that, it’s exquisite and absolutely packed full with content. As with all of her books, I was absolutely blown away by its beauty, I can’t enthuse enough about it, it’s stunning! It is identical in format to her previous four books and therefore my review of each is the same, as are the mental health benefits, skip straight to the second paragraph about content and photos at the end to see what’s inside this title.
The book itself is slightly smaller than most at 20cm square, it’s paperback with a partially coloured image from inside the book on the front cover and a hole in the centre of the magnifying glass which gives a very clever 3D effect of looking at an octopus printed on the inside of the full size French flaps. Both covers have fully illustrated French flaps with colour added to the external covers and the internal front flap but none add to the back one so it’s fully colourable with alcohol markers if you wish. The spine is glue and string-bound so it’s durable and strong and will ease up with use; many of the images are full page designs and therefore a number of them do reach or span the gutter however as the spine becomes more supple, you’ll be able to reach almost all areas of the page. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads, the book contains 72 pages of images, at the back of the book are three pages showing the book covers of the previous and upcoming titles. The paper is bright white, medium/thick and lightly textured, water-based pens didn’t bleed or shadow when I tested them but dark colours or colouring the same spot may cause shadowing so do ensure that you test them yourself in an inconspicuous area; coloured pencils blend and shade well. The images themselves are where these books really come into their own, there are similar style images in each of Rita’s books but they’re beautifully tailored to the specific theme of the title, previously seasons, and this time under water and it’s very clear from looking through each book what it’s dedicated to.
The drawings are incredible, each time I look through the book I see new things that I didn’t notice before. The content ranges from double-page spreads of whales or jellyfish to small central images of hermit crabs, shoals of pufferfish and a close up on the opposite spread to patterns including shells and waves, large centralised images to underwater scenes of deep sea diving, shipwrecks and a shell city and so much more! There are tropical fish, buried treasure, sea plants, shells and even an Arctic scene of seals and penguins. You can colour pearls, octopi, bubbles, seahorses, crabs, jellyfish, dolphins, starfish, seaweed, coral, anemones, clownfish, lobsters, turtles, squid and even a nautilus, it really is packed with watery, sea-dwelling creatures! The illustrations are all drawn quite realistically but each is filled with patterns and small sections to colour which really opens up the possibilities of how to colour them. The pages are filled with cute, whimsical and friendly-feeling images, none are intimidating, they just welcome you in to fill them with colour.
In terms of mental health, each of Rita’s books is just wonderful, the images are really natural and the content is very cute and packed with details so each time you flick through the book you notice more in the images. Because of how the illustrations are drawn, with mostly realistic outlines of obviously recognisable things but filled in with patterns and whimsical doodles, you can either colour the pages realistically, or in outlandish colour schemes and either will look totally fabulous as you’ll see from completed pages on social media. The line thickness is consistently variable throughout, each image is outlined in a medium/thin line with thin-lined details. The intricacy and detail level varies across the images from low-ish to very high, however, don’t despair if your vision or fine motor control aren’t perfect, they don’t need to be, none of the parts are impossibly tiny to colour and many of the images can be simplified by colouring over the internal patterns rather than within them which instantly reduces the intricacy to a much lower level for almost all of the images. The size of the book is ideal because it’s smaller than most and therefore doesn’t require quite so much time to complete each page, the content varies from full double-page spreads depicting scenes to much smaller images so it’s ideal for those with fluctuating conditions or poor concentration as you can colour one object or group of objects on a bad day, or colour a full double-page spread when you’re feeling focused and well. There are also a number of pages that have large open spaces where you could add your own backgrounds or imagery if you wish, this is by no means a necessity but the option is there if you want it. The illustrations create a wonderful sense of place and offer great escapism, they really transport you into Rita’s super cute world filled with charming animals and beautiful plants and away from any difficulties or symptoms you might be experiencing.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book and those in the seasons series, they complement each other beautifully and really transport you into a whimsical world. The pages offer a manageable project for any level of functioning and they are just gorgeous when finished.
If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Die Welt unter der Lupe – Zu Wasser (The World Under the Magnifying Glass – Water)
Book Depository Worldwide (currently reduced in price!) – goo.gl/8CQa2s
You can read my reviews of the other books in the series here.
You can view my silent video flick-through here.
The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils, the bubbles were created using a circle template, a Derwent burnishing pencil and the background with various colours of PanPastels.