one-sided

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.

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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.

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.

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.

Carovne Lahodnosti (Magical Delights), practically perfect in every way, click through to see more photos and read my review of it.

Čarovné Lahodnosti (Magical Delights) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Čarovné Lahodnosti is illustrated, self-published and kindly sent to me to review by Klara Markova. It is Czech and the title translates into English as Magical Delights and the book truly contains all manner of magical and wonderful imagery. The book itself is hardback with beautiful dusky pink covers and a darker pink cloth binding down the spine with gold foiling text, it measures 25.4 x 21.6cm so it’s the same size as most Swedish books and their translations. The spine is glue and string-bound so it’s very durable but a little tricky to get the book to lie flat and reach the central part of the images that enters the book gutter. The illustrations are all printed single-sided and all but one are single-page spreads with one double-page spread near the back of the book. The paper is cream, medium thickness and very lightly textured, it’s most similar to the paper used in Swedish colouring books, oil-based pencils struggle a bit with layering and blending due to the smoothness of the paper; water-based pens don’t bleed but do shadow, alcohol markers will bleed through so make sure you put protective pages behind your work to avoid any accidents! The images are all beautifully drawn and contain all manner of things from mice to cats, mushrooms to berries, fairies to potion bottles and lots and lots of fairy houses which are just gorgeous! Some of the illustrations contain quite heavy shading in the form of dots but don’t be put off, these are really useful for beginner colourists and very helpful for those who are more advanced as it really shows where the shading should be placed in the image. The drawings are all quite fantastical and fantasy-based and many contain what look like enchanted objects and beings, these can all be coloured in whatever palette you choose and they look amazing whether you choose monochrome, realistic or as bright as can be so you really can go to town with your colour choices. At the back of the book is a page that can be cut out and included are 3 colourable doors that you can colour, cut out and then stick onto the corresponding colouring pages to make a lift-the-flap style page, a completely new idea which is fantastic and truly beautiful, the instructions are written in Czech but it’s fairly self-explanatory so don’t worry if you don’t understand the text. On the back of each colouring page is a pair of small designs, identical on each page, and 3 dotted lines where you can write your name, date and possibly even what colouring mediums you used.

In terms of mental health, this book offers wonderful escapism and distraction, there’s loads of content in each image so there’s lots to look at and decipher as well as lots of natural stopping points for days when your concentration is poor. The line thickness is consistently variable throughout and ranges from thin to medium, mostly staying in the thin range. The intricacy and detail levels also vary within each page with most containing a range of large open spaces and much smaller details so you’ve got lots of areas to practice blending and shading if you wish. You’ll need a moderate level of vision and fine motor control to enjoy this book, none of it’s too small to contend with. Because the content is fantasy-based it means there’s no set colour scheme and you can colour everything however you wish which is ideal for those of us who feel quite restricted when colouring realistic things and feel we have to use the “correct” colours, these images might help push you out of your comfort zone and spice things up with glowing blue berries, pink butterflies and more! The illustrations are drawn beautifully and are very absorbing, they create a wonderful sense of place and truly draw you into Klara’s magical world, you may never want to leave as the houses look so cosy and inviting!

Overall, I’d highly recommend this book, it’s gorgeous, beautifully produced and filled with wonderful creatures and magical scenes. If you like Swedish books, fantasy-based imagery or all things pretty then you’ll love this book and the fact that it’s single-sided means that you can use whatever mediums you wish.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available via Klara herself on her Etsy shop and her website. Occasionally it crops up on various Amazon sites for a stupidly cheap price (usually around £7 and under) please be aware that this is always a scam and not from legitimate sellers, you won’t get the book and will have to try to get your money back through Amazon. The only registered distributor is Klara herself so if it seems too good to be true, it definitely is!
Amazon UK – Čarovné Lahodnosti

Klara has recently announced that she’s nearly finished creating a second book, Tenderful Enchantments, this time it will be published in Czech and English and more information can be found here. https://www.facebook.com/klara.markova.12/posts/10209569730744522

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils and Sudee Stile Pencils for the blue berry.

Droomreis (Dream Trip) Kleurboek by Maria Trolle - Click through to read my review of this Dutch edition and my comparison to the original Swedish edition, there are LOTS of differences and some new content!

Droomreis (Dream Trip) Kleurboek: Dutch edition of Vivi Söker en Vän (Vivi’s looking for a friend) – A Review and Comparison

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Droomreis Kleurboek is published and kindly sent to me to review by BBNC Utigevers. This book is illustrated by Maria Trolle and was originally published in Sweden by Printworks with the title Vivi Söker en Vän (Vivi’s looking for a friend), as many of you will already know this book was originally published as a full colour children’s book with an accompanying story (read the quote below from Maria herself describing the story and purpose of the book) and Maria created a colouring book of the uncoloured illustrations, this new Dutch version has the same beautiful images but quite a different publication format so read on to find out about the book itself and the similarities and differences between it and the Swedish edition.

“The story of the book in short is this: “When Vivi woke at dawn the walls were darker than usual and the house felt cramped. I want a friend, someone who is just mine, she thought. Vivi lives in a tree house in the woods. One day she goes on an adventure to find herself a friend.
Vivi takes a ride with a bird and fly up into the sky where she meets the Cloudbear. She goes deep into the ocean where she meets ta mermaid. In the oak, she becomes friends with the tree spirit. Vivi looks into hollows in the ground where the voles live. But who can be her very own friend who is hers always…
The Miniwolf are also looking for a friend. He is curious about Vivi and wonders if she’ll ever see him …
Vivi meets a friend is about finding your place in the world and to find yourself and meet the right person. A best friend.”

The book itself is 21.7 x 25.6cm, it’s hardback with a partially coloured image from inside on the cover and a black and white illustration on the back cover, also from inside the book with gold foil on Vivi’s dress. The spine 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 majority of the pages are printed single-sided and aren’t perforated, five of the pages span onto the left page either creating complete double-page spreads or partial ones where a third of the page is filled with illustration. The paper is cream, thick and very lightly textured, it doesn’t bleed with water-based pens but will bleed with alcohol markers so make sure you pop a protective sheet behind your work. 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. The images themselves are a great mix of adult level colouring but with childlike charm. The illustrations tell the story of Vivi as she goes in search of a friend and she travels to different environments and meets different creatures which means you’re offered a huge variety of things to colour from practising skin tones and fur to feathers and clouds, 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’ve given 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. As with Maria’s other books, a total of 8 images have a black background which is a lovely touch and will make the colours really pop on those pages. There are almost 50 images which are really varied in content and there is a beautiful map at the back showing all of the different places Vivi travels to within the story.

In terms of mental health, this book is wonderful, the storytelling aspect is lovely because it offers escapism and Maria’s images are so evocative and charming that you can’t help but become immersed in Vivi’s world and your worries and symptoms soon melt away. The childlike quality of the images is very nostalgic and really transports you back to simpler times and happy days as a child. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is thin. The intricacy and detail levels vary from large open spaces of a fox or whale to much smaller details of leaves, flower centres and butterflies, and everything in between. You will need fairly good vision and fine motor control to keep within the lines but they don’t need to be perfect so don’t be put off, just check the images below to decide if they’re suitable or not. This book offers a huge amount of scope for the imagination, while the pictures do tell the story very well, you could easily add your own written story on the blank left-hand pages throughout the book and once coloured you could gift it to a child or read it to your own children. You could even colour Vivi to look like a little girl you know and get her to wear their favourite colour so that it’s like that child is in the story, this would make the most wonderful personalised gift! The variance in image content means that this book is ideal for those with fluctuating conditions and concentration levels, on bad days you can colour just one cloud or acorn and on better days you could colour a whole image, there are loads of natural stopping points so you can get the satisfaction of finishing something without it having to be the entire page which can often be quite daunting and off-putting!  This book really is another beautiful creation which is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Maria, it’s a really different premise from most adult colouring books but I personally love it and even though I don’t have children myself, or really anyone to gift it to, I’m still loving colouring in it and imagining myself on Vivi’s journey as she meets cloud bears, mermaids and woodland creatures.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book, it offers so much escapism and the artwork is just charming. It would make a wonderful gift fully coloured, with a written story added, or even a framed page and Vivi is sure to become a family favourite!

 

Comparison of Droomreis and Vivi Söker en Vän

  • Droomreis is hardback, Vivi Söker en Vän is paperback
  • Droomreis has glue and string-bound pages which are non-perforated, Vivi Söker en Vän has glue and string-bound pages which are perforated and therefore removable.
  • The paper is the same colour in both books and is a creamy off-white colour, it is thicker and almost card-like in Vivi Söker en Vän and the paper in the Dutch edition seems identical to the paper used in the majority of Swedish books.
  • The language throughout the book, including all text in images has been changed from Swedish to Dutch.
  • A few of the images in Droomreis are double-page spreads or partial double-page spreads where the image reaches across some of the left page, these images are all single pages in Vivi Söker en Vän so you do get a few unseen pages to colour in Droomreis and some of the single page spreads in Vivi have been slightly re-jigged to include a bit more content (see photos below for comparisons).
  • The front and back cover and the text on the spine of Droomreis has gold foiling accents, Vivi Söker en Vän has no gold foiling.
  • The covers are completely different and both depict different internal images that are partially coloured.
  • Droomreis is slightly larger than Vivi but the pages inside the covers are a little smaller overall.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book it’s available below though it is often out of stock on Book Depository so you may want to sign up for email alerts with them so you know as soon as it’s available again!
Amazon UK – Droomreis Kleurboek
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Droomreis-kleurboek-Mari-Trolle/9789045321875/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils.

Magnificent Animals: A Coloring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Magnificent Animals: A Coloring Book is published and kindly sent to me to review by National Geographic. The book is 24 cm square, paperback with flexible card covers with 1/3 French flaps, the cover has green foiling embellishments and the inside covers and first and last page have a continuous pattern and animal image that is fully colourable. The spine of the book is glue bound and fairly stiff to begin with, the images are printed single-sided and are perforated so none of the images enter the spine. All of the images are single-page spreads printed on the righthand page. The paper is bright white, medium thickness with a small amount of texture allowing a few layers of pencil to be built up for blending and shading; water-based pens shadow but don’t bleed, alcohol markers will bleed through so put some protective paper behind your work to protect the next page. The images themselves are each of a different animal and are hugely wide-ranging including a: horse, peacock, koala, seahorse, armadillo, mandarin duck, sheep, preying mantis, meerkats, zebra, heron, bears, ants, scorpion, panda, stag beetle, cow, butterflies and so many more creatures. The image style varies hugely and while the cover states that it was created by one illustrator, these images don’t look hand-drawn and my guess is that they were created digitally as a number of them have the same patterns or backgrounds as each other. The illustrations are very similar in style to many of the Shutterstock images that we’ve seen and while none of them are the same as any I’ve seen before, they do feel quite similar to a number of books I’ve seen in the past. Sadly, I’m disappointed by the artwork, I expected the illustrations to be very realistic due to being published by National Geographic but only the outlines are realistic, the majority of the animals have patterns added to them which don’t look remotely like the texture of their fur, feathers or skin and I’m guessing have been added for interest and extra colouring space, normally I don’t mind this but it seems like a wasted opportunity when we could have had a realistically drawn book with such a wealth of different animals pictured, many of which I’ve never seen in a colouring book before. Many of the backgrounds aren’t remotely related to the content especially the peacock with snowflakes and it just seems a bit haphazard and thrown together, the only continuity seems to be the animal theme as the way the animals are drawn as well as their patterns and backgrounds is so varied. I do think I’d have been much more keen on the content if I hadn’t known who the publisher was and imagined the type of content first so others may well be much happier with the contents than I am.

In terms of mental health, this book offers a lot of distraction, there is heaps to colour in each image and the patterns add a lot of extra spaces if you want to colour each section separately, there’s plenty to keep you absorbed and focused which is great for those with an anxious or racing mind. The line thickness is fairly consistent throughout and remains thin, the intricacy and detail levels are high in the majority of images and therefore you’ll need pretty good vision and fine motor control to enjoy this book and get the most out of it. You will also need a very good level of concentration for the vast majority of these images as there are a lot of component parts to identify and lots of fiddly bits to colour so you’ll probably want to save it for your better days rather than getting frustrated by it on days where you can’t properly focus. There is a huge variety of imagery and some really quirky and unusual animal choices which is a nice change from a lot of animal-themed books which tend to stick to the cute, fluffy, cuddly types, it’s nice to see a good range or insects, reptiles and wacky mammals. The single-sided printing means you can use any medium you fancy and the perforations make the pages easy to remove to stick up and brighten your walls or frame for your kids’ bedrooms if you like.

Overall, I was disappointed by the lack of realism in the images but the content is very wide-ranging, quirky and fun and you’re getting a lot of images for your money. The production quality is good and very useful for those who like to use wet media and alcohol markers, it’s certainly a book that’s grown on me but it does still feel quite generic and haphazard.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Magnificent Animals: A Coloring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/National-Geographic-Magnificent-Animals-An-Adult-Coloring-Book-Hayrullah-Kay/9781426218156/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Stabilo 68 Fibre-Tips.

Life Under the Lens: A Scientific Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Life Under the Lens: A Scientific Colouring Book is illustrated, self-published, and kindly sent to me to review by Jennifer Delaney. This book is A4, paperback with flexible card covers and a partially coloured image from inside on the front. The spine is glue-bound and the images are printed single-sided, the majority of them are centralised but a few are full-page and therefore do enter the spine which you may need to break if you wish to reach the entirety of the image. The paper is white, thin and standard Createspace type paper, it’s lightly textured and fine for a few layers of pencil and water-based pens shadow and do bleed occasionally so if using these or alcohol markers do make sure that you put some spare paper behind to protect the next page. The content includes 50 images of things you’d look at under a microscope and contains everything from bacteria and funghi to algae, cells and teeny tiny creatures. The images are printed single-sided but on the opposite page is information about the illustration so that you can easily identify it and find out some facts about each one. The illustrations each have a realistically drawn outline and features and all are filled with highly detailed and decorative patterns so that they’re fun to colour whilst still being quite accurate scientifically, this is a great combination and one that really brings the world of science and art together. Some of the pictures include: cyanobacteria, radiolarians, diatoms, volvox, female pinecone, tilia cordata, cup fungus, rotifers, shrimp zoea, mosquito pupa and so much more, there is a really wide range of content and something to please any level of biologist or budding scientist.

In terms of mental health, this book is very distracting, it’s not pretty but I wouldn’t expect it to be and it’s a really novel concept and unlike anything else I’ve seen in the nearly 300 books I’ve now reviewed. The information included is really useful, not only for identifying what’s in each image so you can colour it realistically if you wish, but also so you can learn something new and you could even use it to start off research into our microscopic world, it would be an ideal starting point. Of course, you don’t have to colour realistically, I’m really pleased with my rainbow coloured diatom and may have to make it my mission to colour the whole book in rainbows to spice it up! The line thickness is consistent throughout and remains very thin, the intricacy and detail levels vary a fair amount with some images consisting of lots of small details and others including larger open spaces so there is a range of difficulty levels but you will need pretty good vision and fine motor control to get the most from this book. The pages include varying amounts of content from component pictures to a large centralised image so they need varying levels of concentration and you’ll be able to find an image to suit any mood, symptom level or ability to focus. The patterns within each image are great for giving you something to focus on, ideal if your mind is racing and your thoughts won’t settle. Once you’ve finished colouring the pages you could carefully remove them from the book and frame them to make a cute and quirky gift for a scientist in your life, or to jazz up your office or study space.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to science-lovers, it’s unusual, quirky and interesting and would make a great stocking filler (yes, I’m already thinking about Christmas) or present for the scientist in your life who has everything! It’s great fun to colour, informative and interesting and different from any other colouring books.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available to order here:
Amazon UK – Life Under the Lens: A Scientific Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Life-Under-the-Lens-Jennifer-Delaney/9781999742201/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured with Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

Birdtopia 2018 Colouring Calendar – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Birdtopia 2018 Colouring Calendar is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This calendar contains images from Daisy Fletcher’s gorgeous colouring book, Birdtopia. This calendar is huge, it’s 30.5cm wide by 35.5cm long, when closed, making it a whopping 71cms long when it’s opened and hung on the wall so it really will be pride of place no matter where you hang it. It is significantly larger than the book (see photos below) and contains 12 of the images, each enlarged to fit the larger pages, one for each month of the year. 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 image sizes. The images are printed a fair bit larger in the calendar than in the book so this is a great purchase for those of you who found Daisy’s illustrations just a little too detailed and small, under each illustration is a small note stating what birds are drawn so that you can easily identify them and colour them realistically if you wish. The cover of the calendar is yellowy-cream card with the same images and design as the book cover, the title is printed in gold foil lettering and on the back are thumbnail pictures of all of the images inside; the calendar arrives wrapped in protective plastic wrap so you can’t look inside. The paper is cream and medium weight with a little bit of tooth and it’s perfectly possible to get a number of layers and to blend well, I tested Holbein and Polychromos pencils and these worked really well; water-based pens don’t bleed and will only shadow if you press too hard but do be sure to test in an inconspicuous area. I completed my page using Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with minimal water and the paper held up very well to this with minimal warping or buckling. 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. As with the Birdtopia book, this calendar has the quirky feature of having white colouring spaces but cream background printed throughout (except for the peacock page which is entirely white due to being a full page design), this isn’t a bad thing and many people think that this feature was one of the things that made Birdtopia so special but it’s worth mentioning and taking note of my photos below as it doesn’t suit everyone and is a bit of a surprise when you first look through the calendar.

The calendar pages themselves are beautifully arranged with a large month title at the top and the dates all neatly spaced in a grid. There is plenty of space to write plans into each box and a notes section at the bottom consisting of five lines. The calendar lists all major holidays and dates as well as the country that celebrates them in brackets and the moon phases are also shown. At the bottom of each calendar page is a small coloured bird illustration, sometimes accompanied by a flower or plant. 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 calendar is stitch-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 hole at the top that you can either hang directly on a nail or thread string through to hang on a hook.

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 larger image size means it’s more suitable for those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control, there are still some small and intricate sections but these are much more manageable. 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. The majority of Daisy’s images are intricate and detailed and do require a fair amount of concentration which is great for keeping you occupied when you’re feeling anxious or low, they’re also nature-themed, realistically drawn (though not realistically composed in terms of accurate plants or comparative sizes of things) and truly beautiful and just looking through the calendar is sure to lift your mood. These images are really good for practising mindfulness techniques because they 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 and spindly thin throughout so you’ll need to colour slowly in order to keep within the lines but this is perfectly doable if you’re patient.

I would highly recommend this for any colouring fan who needs a calendar in their life. If you like Daisy’s previous work, or if it’s new to you and you love birds and nature then this calendar will be perfect for you, it’s an absolute joy to colour and it looks amazing when you finish a page. With its beautiful selection of designs and great paper quality, it will brighten up the darkest of rooms and moods. It would also 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 – Birdtopia 2018 Colouring Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Birdtopi-2018-Colouring-Calendar-Daisy-Fletcher/9781786270498/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with minimal water.