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Rhapsody in the Forest – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Rhapsody in the Forest is illustrated by Kanoko Egusa, a Japanese artist, who very kindly sent me a copy to review. Kanoko’s work is yet to be picked up by a US or UK publisher which is a real shame because her work is truly stunning, it’s unlike anything we’ve seen before in the UK but is similar to many of the other beautiful Japanese books on the market, they have such a lovely quality to them and are very whimsical and cute with plenty of detail. Kanoko has created two books so far, this one and a second called Menuet de Bonheur which I’ve reviewed here.

The book itself is just under 25cm square, paperback with very flexible card covers and a beautiful thick paper dust jacket with linework from inside the book. The pages are printed double-sided and the spine is glue-bound, the images are printed full-page and therefore do enter the spine so you’ll need to be careful when trying to reach the centre of the pages not to break the spine or you may end up loosening the pages. The paper is white, medium/thin and very lightly textured, it doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens but do make sure you check this somewhere inconspicuous as we all colour differently, pencils blend and shade well despite the lack of tooth in the paper and sparing amounts of water were tolerated very well and didn’t cause bleeding when I used my Derwent Inktense Pencils. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads and the content is all heavily nature-based with lots of animal characters. The book is printed in Japanese so it’s not possible to read the text at the beginning of the book which I assume explains what’s happening through the pages but most of the scenes are pretty self-explanatory.

The illustrations contain all sorts of imagery from food to flowers, postage stamps to books, circus and nautical scenes and lots and lots of animals in various stages of anthropomorphosis from very animal-like, possibly wearing a hat, to very anthropomorphic and doing human jobs like decorating cakes, trick-or-treating, and even going to a ball. They are very natural and filled with detail, objects, and plenty to look at and the content is really wide-ranging and very pretty. I’m not entirely sure what the specific theme of the book is but it seems like it’s following the lives of lots of woodland and more exotic creatures and their travels, tales, exploits and even parties! It’s a really lovely theme for a book and the pictures are truly exquisite and beautiful! Five of the pages have black or grey backgrounds which is quite novel and a nice addition to the book.  Of the two books, I personally prefer this one as it’s more natural and less anthropomorphic which suits my tastes more, however, both are just gorgeous! At the back of the book are two light brown pages, the first has two postcard sized images which can be cut out and coloured, the second has 5 illustrations each with dotted lines drawn around them so that they can be cut out and attached to cards or used as gift tags etc either coloured or uncoloured.

In terms of mental health, this book is fantastic, it’s so calming and distracting and there’s just so much to look at in each picture so it’s really absorbing. It also offers wonderful escapism because you can create stories about what the animals are doing and what they might be baking a cake or wearing their best outfits for and immerse yourself in their lovely world. The book feels really peaceful and reminds me of my childhood reading Beatrix Potter’s wonderful stories about animals, I’m sure Peter Rabbit and Mrs Tiggywinkle would fit right in with Kanoko’s forest of creatures and you could have great fun naming all of the characters depicted in this beautiful book. The line thickness is pretty consistent throughout and is thin but not spindly thin so it’s perfectly colourable. The intricacy and detail levels vary throughout from very detailed sections with lots of intricate parts to much larger sections where you can really go to town with your blending and shading if you wish; this book would be suitable for those with moderate to good vision and fine motor control. This book will require a fairly good level of concentration but there are lots of natural stopping points so you can colour for as little or as much time as you want and still get a good sense of accomplishment. The amount of content in each page varies so some are centralised single page images, others are fully covered double-page spreads and a few have spaces where you could add your own imagery or backgrounds if you wish.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book and Kanoko’s second book, Menuet de Bonheur, both are truly beautiful, really natural and calming and just charming to look through. Having seen lots of coloured images from inside, these illustrations are really brought to life with colour and they look spectacular when finished.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it is available on Amazon but price varies so do check there as well as Amazon Japan (postage is steep but does reduce per item if you buy more than one thing) and check Etsy too where an increasing number of Japanese and other International colouring books are being stocked for a reasonable price.

Amazon UK – Rhapsody in the Forest

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

Menuet de Bonheur – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Menuet de Bonheur is illustrated by Kanoko Egusa, a Japanese artist, who very kindly sent me a copy to review. Kanoko’s work is yet to be picked up by a US or UK publisher which is a real shame because her work is truly stunning, it’s unlike anything we’ve seen before in the UK but is similar to many of the other beautiful Japanese books on the market, they have such a lovely quality to them and are very whimsical and cute with plenty of detail. Kanoko has created two books so far, this one and a second called Rhapsody in the Forest which I’ve reviewed here.

The book itself is just under 25cm square, paperback with very flexible card covers and a beautiful, thick, dusky pink, paper dust jacket with linework from inside the book. The pages are printed double-sided and the spine is glue-bound, the images are printed full-page and therefore do enter the spine so you’ll need to be careful when trying to reach the centre of the pages not to break the spine or you may end up loosening the pages. The paper is white, medium/thin and very lightly textured, it doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens but do make sure you check this somewhere inconspicuous as we all colour differently, pencils blend and shade well despite the lack of tooth in the paper and sparing amounts of water were tolerated very well and didn’t cause bleeding when I used my Derwent Inktense Pencils. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads and the content is all heavily nature-based with lots of animal characters. The book is printed in Japanese so it’s not possible to read the text at the beginning of the book which I assume explains what’s happening through the pages but most of the scenes are pretty self-explanatory.

The illustrations contain all sorts of imagery from flowers to teacups, baby clothes to fruit baskets, fireworks to vegetables and lots and lots of animals in various stages of anthropomorphosis. This book contains many more human-like animals than Rhapsody in the Forest and it appears to show family life from bathing the children to hanging up washing, reading a bedtime story to food shopping, preparing dinner to going on holiday and even depicting a wedding! The images are very natural and filled with detail, objects, and plenty to look at and the content is really wide-ranging and very pretty. Animal family life is a really lovely theme for a book and the pictures are truly exquisite and beautiful, it feels like you’re taking a peek into their life and stepping into their story. Three of the pages have black backgrounds which is quite novel and a nice addition to the book. At the back of the book are two light brown pages, the first has two postcard sized images which can be cut out and coloured, the second has 5 illustrations each with dotted lines drawn around them so that they can be cut out and attached to cards or used as gift tags etc either coloured or uncoloured.

In terms of mental health, this book is fantastic, it’s so calming and distracting and there’s just so much to look at in each picture so it’s really absorbing. It also offers wonderful escapism because you can create stories about what the animals are doing and immerse yourself in their lovely world. The book feels really peaceful and reminds me of my childhood reading Beatrix Potter’s wonderful stories about animals, I’m sure Peter Rabbit and Mrs Tiggywinkle would fit right in with Kanoko’s creatures and you could have great fun naming all of the characters depicted in this beautiful book. The line thickness is pretty consistent throughout and is thin but not spindly thin so it’s perfectly colourable. The intricacy and detail levels vary throughout from very detailed sections with lots of intricate parts to much larger sections where you can really go to town with your blending and shading if you wish; this book would be suitable for those with moderate to good vision and fine motor control. This book will require a fairly good level of concentration but there are lots of natural stopping points so you can colour for as little or as much time as you want and still get a good sense of accomplishment. The amount of content in each page varies so some are centralised single page images, others are fully covered double-page spreads and a few have spaces where you could add your own imagery or backgrounds if you wish.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book and Kanoko’s first book, Rhapsody in the Forest, both are truly beautiful, really natural and calming and just charming to look through. Having seen lots of coloured images from inside, these illustrations are really brought to life with colour and they look spectacular when finished, they’re also ideal for practising colouring fur!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it is available on Amazon but price varies so do check there as well as Amazon Japan (postage is steep but does reduce per item if you buy more than one thing) and check Etsy too where an increasing number of Japanese and other International colouring books are being stocked for a reasonable price.
Amazon UK – Menuet de Bonheur

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

Wonderlands by Johanna Basford – A Review

Ever since I found Johanna’s first colouring book, Secret Garden, I’ve been on a mission to have copies of all of the books and formats that get published of her work. A quick google search alerted me to an elusive book called Wonderlands which was the first book published in her name but this was either out of stock, unavailable or selling for crazy amounts of money for a used copy on Amazon or Ebay because it’s now out of print, with no plans to re-publish. I had pretty much given up hope of ever getting a copy unless I won the lottery. That was until a week ago when I saw that a few people in the colouring community had suddenly managed to find copies and that they weren’t having to re-mortgage their homes in order to get them. I contacted two of them straight away and both got back to me and were really helpful in showing me how to find the book on the publisher’s website (it’s very well hidden, even googling numerous times and trying different search terms didn’t come up with the ability to buy it) and I got ordering. I ordered it last week and just 7 days later I had a copy in my hands and wowee was it worth the 2 year wait and countless hours trying to hunt a copy down in that time.

Wonderlands is not a colouring book and was never designed to be one. The paper is white and thick though subsequent designs can be seen through it and it has a visible horizontal grain, a small section of pages (16 sides) are black paper with a vertical grain with white line drawings printed on them. I have not tested the paper with any colouring mediums as this book is now my pride and joy and I won’t be going near it with pencils or pens so if you wish to colour it you will need to test your mediums on an inconspicuous area but do bear in mind that paper with grain can bleed badly with any type of liquid and it may therefore only be suitable for pencils rather than pens. The content of the book is mostly from Johanna’s Wonderlands art exhibition which was displayed at Dundee Contemporary Arts from the 4th of May to 7th of July 2013. As such, the illustrations are some of the most detailed I’ve ever seen and have not been designed with colouring in mind and are therefore very black-heavy with much less white space left than we’re used to in Johanna’s work. Many of these illustrations have been shrunk down from much larger depictions in order to fit the book’s pages and therefore the intricacy and detail levels are second-to-none. I can only imagine how wonderful it would have been to see the original exhibition but luckily we are able to take our own mini tour within the pages of this book.

Looking through the book feels almost like you’re looking into Johanna’s mind, you can see her creative process working and there are hints and precursors to all of her colouring books and projects. I studied Creative Textiles for GCSE and therefore love seeing the process from initial ideas and mood boards all the way through to the finished display pieces and this book really feels like you’re able to go on that journey and you can see the first glimpses of certain pages from the colouring books we know and love from the owl tree and lily pond in Secret Garden to the monkeys of Magical Jungle. The content of this book is much more wide-ranging and less specific and is also more jumbled up within each page with one page containing objects ranging from an octopus to a cactus, a dustbin to a whale, a playing card to a ladder and even a lightbulb. This book is honestly spectacular and while it’s not for colouring, anyone who’s a fan of Johanna’s work will find that this book is an absolute must-have. Not every page has a design on it but the ordering of these blank pages is quite random throughout, there are a few single-sided pages but the majority are double-sided. The image styles range from ribbons across the page with vast blank spaces around them to repeating patterns like we saw in Lost Ocean, centralised images of trees and other objects to centralised mirror image designs and some lovely two-page spreads where the original image is shown in its entirety on one side and a section zoomed into on the other so you can see some of the wonderful detail more closely. The illustrations cover such an expanse of content from alphabets drawn in flowers and leaves and another in robots and machinery, to people ranging from Sumo wrestlers to Beefeaters, Royal Guards and little ballerinas, there’s a whole page dedicated to junk food including gingerbread men and burgers and others just consisting of butterflies, moths, or pyramids of animals. As with all of Johanna’s work, each illustration is stunning and one of the best features of this book is the section of photographs at the back which shows the exhibition itself and shows the scale of some of the pieces she created, we’ve seen sneaky peeks of some of these in newspaper articles and in her studio videos where we’ve seen her beautifully doodled dog statue and framed cuckoo clock designs and it’s wonderful seeing them in situ in the book, my personal favourite being the beautiful sailboat with seaweed imagery which clearly inspired Lost Ocean. The black pages are different again with the images all printed in a slightly greyish white and looking a little less crisp than the black-lined illustrations do, they look a tad more smudgy and as if they were created with paint or screen-printing rather than a pen but nevertheless they’re beautiful and the content here is very natural and nature-based from Oriental-style motifs to a beautiful double-page spread of peacocks, a floral heart very similar to the one in Secret Garden, to a beautiful pond and rainforest ribbon. The book feels quite sectioned off with it starting with black on white illustrations, then moving to white on black, then back to black on white and finally ending with 16 pages of photographs from the exhibit, despite this sectioning, the book feels really cohesive and does feel like a journey through the exhibition itself and Johanna’s mind and creative process. At the very back of the book all of the works of art are titled and information about the commissions and exhibit is given which gives great context for where the pieces are from and why they were created.

In terms of mental health, this book has certainly been fantastic for my own and has already given me hours of enjoyment and calm. Looking through the pages has really opened up a new world for  me and I’ve loved looking at all of the different aspects and details and each time I look through I see something new because it’s just so jam-packed with content. The paper has a lovely feel to it and it’s just a really tactile book with plenty to keep you occupied for hours. The spine is glue-bound so you’ll need to be a little careful not to break it by opening the pages too far. I’ve really loved adding this book to my Johanna Basford collection and it’s possibly my favourite book because it’s just so beautiful and wide-ranging. The cover has a black and white illustrated removable dust jacket with full French flaps and this could be completely coloured if you wish though I shall be leaving mine as is, the black and white is just so striking and the paper it’s printed on has a lovely soft feel.

Overall, I can’t recommend this book highly enough, if you’re looking for a colouring book then this isn’t for you as many of the details and designs are impossibly small and wouldn’t be colourable but for fans of Johanna’s work who want to see more of her art and discover where the books we colour have come from this book is ideal. The production of the book is wonderful and while it may seem a little pricey at £20 + £5 postage (more for International deliveries) it’s truly a beautiful book that I think is worth every penny, it’s becoming harder and harder to find and I have no idea how much stock the publisher has left (it currently states Low Stock on the site) so I certainly wouldn’t put off ordering it if you’re desperate for a copy, you won’t be disappointed and it really is a very special creation.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book it’s available here: Dundee Contemporary Arts

For a silent full video flick-through of the book, please click here.

H for Horatio’s Garden – A Review

Following on from my review of The Horatio’s Garden Colouring Book, I bring you a review of a second book, the first created by the hugely talented, Catalina Willis. This book isn’t a colouring book but please don’t stop reading, this book is very small but very mighty and those of you who read my review of her colouring book will know that these books are being sold for a truly wonderful and worthwhile cause. For those not already aware, Catalina was inspired to create the books in memory of her Godmother’s son, Horatio, who very sadly died in 2011, aged 17, killed by a polar bear on an expedition to Svalbard. Horatio had planned to be a doctor and did voluntary work in a spinal treatment centre where his father worked, he realised there was a need for accessible gardens and set about helping create these, three have already been created in his memory with a further eight planned so that all 11 NHS spinal injury centres will have one, the proceeds from sales of this book will go directly towards this worthy cause.

This book is small at 15cm square, paperback, and has a yellowy-green cover. The book is printed double-sided, in full colour and is very high quality throughout. The content is described as “A whimsical romp around the 27 letters of the English alphabet, through the eyes of Catalina Willis” and the book does exactly what it says on the tin, each double-page spread is dedicated to a letter of the alphabet, each symbolising something beginning with that letter e.g. O for Outer Space, T for Togetherness, and most importantly, H for Horatio’s Garden. The pages are filled with quirky drawings, fun characters, whimsy, and lots of humour. It’s honestly a delight to look through and will make children and adults laugh as they journey through the alphabet. As for mental health benefits, what could be better than something that makes you laugh and smile? Catalina’s drawings are charming, characterful and they have a lovely naïve and child-like quality but with a true artist’s finesse added to them so fantastic for cheering you up and brightening your day, especially with all of the bright and vivid colours she’s used.

Overall, this is a lovely book, ideal for children and adults, and being sold for a truly fantastic cause, what have you got to lose? I can’t recommend it highly enough, it’s super cute, funny, and just adorable.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available on the Horatio’s Garden charity website here.

Can’t get enough of Catalina’s artwork? Check out my review of her gorgeous colouring book which you can bring to life with your own beautiful colours.

The Horatio’s Garden Colouring Book – A Review

Today I bring you a review, quite different from any other, I’ve had this book for months and just haven’t quite known how to review it because it’s been created for such a wonderful cause and has such an important message, I really wanted to be able to do it justice. The book was created by Catalina Willis, a young, and extremely talented illustrator who was just 15 at the time, not that you’d know it from the professional look of her drawings. She was inspired to create the book in memory of her Godmother’s son, Horatio, who very sadly died in 2011, aged 17, killed by a polar bear on an expedition to Svalbard. Horatio had planned to be a doctor and did voluntary work in a spinal treatment centre where his father worked, he realised there was a need for accessible gardens and set about helping create these, three have already been created in his memory with a further eight planned so that all 11 NHS spinal injury centres will have one, the proceeds from sales of this book will go directly towards this worthy cause.

The book itself is small at 20cm square, perfectly formed, and the ideal size to take on your travels and pop in your bag for colouring on the go. It’s paperback with flexible card covers with a lovely dark blue front and one of Catalina’s cute birds trudging his way across the cover. The spine is glue and string-bound and very durable but also easy enough to open the book fully and access the centre of each spread. The illustrations are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads with the majority being single page images. The paper is bright white, thick and lightly textured, it doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens and pencils blend and shade nicely. The images themselves are a real mixture of content and style but all are very cute, quirky and whimsical. The book is arranged into 10 chapters: 1. The Gardens, 2. Activities, 3. British Animals, 4. The Sea, 5. Sleepy Animals, 6. People, 7. Sensible Animals, 8. Pangrams, 9. Silly Animals, 10. Patterns. The images are roughly arranged into these themes and include styles from normal black and white line drawings to greyscale type images, some with realistic greyscale photo backgrounds and even patterned or black backgrounds. The images vary from large drawings with thick lines drawn in a blocky style, to much more detailed images with much thinner linework and teeny tiny spaces and a huge range of everything in between. The majority of the images are animal-based and contain lots of anthropomorphic animal characters from poorly donkeys to nursing geese, dinosaurs offering rides to fez-wearing creatures and lots more. Some of the pages contain lots of random objects, others include food, some contain text and some of the loveliest images are of the current spinal injury gardens being enjoyed by poorly animals. Catalina’s illustration style is beautiful, hugely varied and much more mature than you’d expect from a 15-year-old, with a huge dollop of humour, whimsy and cuteness added into the mix. There is even a game of hide and seek going on through the book with Kit the fly hiding on each double-page spread.

In terms of mental health, this book has got everything needed to make it perfect for helping mental illnesses, it’s being sold in aid of a fantastic cause, it’s got a huge variety of content and style and it’s wonderfully light-hearted, making it ideal for children, adults, and the young at heart. As mentioned before, the linework is varied throughout from spindly thin to really thick and chunky and the intricacy and detail levels also vary hugely from teeny tiny spaces to much larger open spaces so the majority of the pages would be suitable for all levels of vision and fine motor control. The variety in content and style will also be ideal for those of you with varying conditions and symptom levels as you’ll always find something suitable for how you’re feeling on any given day and the pages are a really manageable size with many taking an hour or so if you want to block colour, or much longer if you want to take your time with blending and shading. There are lots of really natural stopping points so you can colour one animal or creature if you wish, rather than a full page. A number of them have printed backgrounds which really help to finish off the page but there are also plenty that have blank backgrounds where you could add your own imagery if you fancy though there’s no need to do so if you don’t want to.

Overall, I can’t recommend this book highly enough, it’s so cute and it’s been created for such a worthy cause. It would be a wonderful gift that’s sure to put a smile on the face of any child, or adult, receiving it. You’ll also be doing your bit to help those with spinal injuries be able to visit accessible gardens whilst in hospital and that can only be a good thing! Catalina’s illustrations are gorgeous, very cute and often funny and they’re sure to be a hit with the whole family, she’s clearly poured so much love and passion into her work and I really hope it’ll continue to raise much-needed funds for this cause.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book, it’s available here, where all proceeds will go directly to the charity.

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip Pens.

Fairy Tales Coloring Book (Sagolikt) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Fairy Tales Coloring Book is a Swedish book illustrated by Emelie Lidehall Oberg, originally published with the title Sagolikt and published and kindly sent to me to review by Gibbs Smith. I reviewed the original book, Sagolikt, HERE and this English language edition is identical in all respects apart from the language it’s written in and very subtle cosmetic differences with slightly different colour shades used on the covers for example but nothing that affects the use or enjoyment of the book, therefore the rest of my review is identical.

The book is 25cm square, paperback with flexible card covers that are cream with mint green and pale pink coloured illustrations with gold foiling accents on the front and back making it a really pretty and luxurious looking book. The covers have ¾ flaps which both have fully colourable black line drawings from within the book. The spine is glue and string-bound so it’s fairly durable but this does mean a little of each image is lost into it. The paper is cream, thick and lightly textured, it doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens unless you press too hard in one spot, it works well with pencils and you can build up a good number of layers for blending and shading. The book contains 96 pages of double-sided images which are all single page spreads. The image content is really varied and contains all sorts of aspects from different fairy tales without being specific or telling any stories, each picture is a stand-alone piece though some content is similar. So many different things are pictured from all sorts of furry animals and birds to doll-like people and treehouses, gramophones and teapots to cupcakes and bunting, glass jars and flowers to tepees and underwater scenes. Some of the images are of more realistic scenes and others are purely fantasy-based from a tea party scene with cuddly toys to a family of clothed rabbits moving house; a glass fish bowl to a teacup village; and a beautiful country house to a city contained within a lightbulb. The images are really pretty and this book is absolutely ideal for anyone who likes fantasy, whimsy and images that are filled with childlike charm (not childish) but with adult levels of intricacy. The images are also really cohesive and I didn’t feel that any of the pages contained filler images, each has definitely earnt its place and they look beautiful together.

In terms of mental health, this book is lovely because it’s based around fairy tale imagery which is full of charm and whimsy. The images aren’t overly realistic so there’s no need to use realistic colour schemes unless you want to and the animals pictured could be coloured as if they’re real, or as if they’re cuddly toys that have come to life so the possibilities are endless! The line thickness is consistent throughout and is medium/thin so it’s perfectly colourable for almost anyone and there is a little leeway to prevent you accidentally going over the lines. The intricacy and detail levels vary throughout and while the majority of the images are very detailed, hardly any of this is particularly intricate so this book will suit most people apart from those with particularly poor vision or fine motor control. The variance in difficulty level means that there is something suitable for your good days, bad days, and everything in between so this is an ideal book for those or you with fluctuating conditions or changeable concentration levels. The book offers huge amounts of escapism and truly transports you to a far off land where you can get out of your head, away from your thoughts and lost into a place filled with friendly fluffy animals, beautiful doll-like people, and quirky, whimsical landscapes. There are plenty of fairly large spaces where you can really practice your blending and shading and there are a number of pages with jewels on for those of you who are currently obsessed with the gem-colouring that has swept through the colouring groups. The images are really pretty, so varied and just lovely to look at and to colour! There is plenty of space to add your own backgrounds or details if you wish but all of these pages look finished and there are no hints or written suggestions so there’s absolutely no need to be able to draw if you don’t want to.

I would highly recommend this book to those who like fairy tales, charming and cute imagery, and Swedish artwork because this book is beautiful and one I’m really pleased to now own. It’s a really pretty book with plenty of detail and interesting imagery, the paper is ideal for pen and pencil lovers and it really has a good feel about it.

If you’d like to pre-order a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Fairy Tales Coloring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Fairy-Tales-Coloring-Book/9781423646624/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

Po Drugiej Stronie Snu (On the Other Side of Sleep) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Po Drugiej Stronie Snu is a Polish colouring book illustrated by the very talented Karolina Kubisowska who kindly sent me a copy to review. This book is periodically on Amazon UK though it’s currently very expensive there (I’m not sure why as it hasn’t always been) and Book Depository (links below, above the photos). The title translates as On the Other Side of Sleep which I’ve guessed to mean that it’s showing a dreamy fantasy land and that’s exactly what you get inside, surreal, weird, wonderful and ethereal images that would fit right in to a dream land.

The book itself is 22cm square, paperback with flexible card covers with a partially coloured image from inside the book, the inside covers are a sage green colour. The spine is glue-bound and you will need to be a little careful with it to avoid loosening the pages over time. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads with the majority being single pages, they are all full-page designs that reach the edges so a little of some of the images can be lost into the spine. The paper is bright white, medium/thick and smooth but not shiny, though, in most of the images the paper looks a little grey due to the printing (this isn’t a negative, more on this later). Water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow and pencils work well on the paper despite it not having much texture, I used Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with water and the paper held up very well with almost no warping or buckling and any that did occur was because of my inexperience and lack of ability to be sparing enough with water!

The artwork is really unusual, in fact everything about the content and style of this book is unlike anything else I’ve seen hence the whole paragraph dedicated to it. Karolina’s art is a cross between normal line art and greyscale, it’s not fully shaded or photographic but it does have heavy black shading which makes the illustrations really dramatic and really easy to make look amazing with little to no knowledge of blending or shading. In addition to this some of the pencil lines are left showing and the pen lines aren’t pristinely, accurately drawn, they feel more chaotic and haphazard but you can see that they’re all meticulously placed to give a sketched look and this creates a real feeling of movement rather than a flat, static drawing.  The backgrounds aren’t left plain, they mostly show some sort of texture from canvas-like texture to toothy watercolour paper and plenty of others, hardly any have totally white backgrounds. This book is very much like looking through an artist’s sketchbook, it isn’t perfect, it’s not polished but that’s what’s so good about it, it feels inviting, less intimidating and all it needs is some vibrant colour to finish it off. Interspersed through the colouring pages are a number of pages with text written on them, sadly this is written in Polish so I have no idea what it says but I understand that it tells the story of the dreamy land that Karolina has created. Some of these pages are black and white and others are printed in full colour. The last two colouring pages have some splashes of colour added around the edges but these aren’t intrusive to the main designs; a few of the images have black backgrounds. The image content is very wide-ranging and contains some realistic images and others which are much more imaginary, there are lots of mushrooms and gems, plants and animals as well as dolls, three-eyed girls, crying unicorns and even a haunted-looking house, there’s nothing particularly horror-themed or grotesque, but there is a little of the dark and bizarre which could be the subject of bad dreams but not nightmares.

In terms of mental health, this book is ideal, at first it appears really intimidating because the artwork is different from anything you’ll have seen before and the dark lines and shading can be off-putting but as soon as you put colour on the paper your fears will melt away and you’ll realise just how easy it is to bring Karolina’s art to life. This would be an ideal book for beginners because the shading is already added for you so you can learn about light and shade and add your darker colours where the heaviest lines are and your lightest colours in the emptier spaces but it’s also easy enough for advanced colourists to challenge themselves and make their own mark on the pages. The line thickness is varied throughout the book and each page, and ranges from medium/thin to very thick. The intricacy and detail levels also vary throughout from large open spaces to much smaller sections and everything in between meaning this book would be suitable for most people with most levels of vision and fine motor control, those with poor levels of either may struggle with a few of the images but this isn’t a book where you need to stick rigidly to colouring between the lines, Karolina’s beautiful haphazard drawing style will be very forgiving of any slips or spills so if you like the artwork then take the plunge and get a copy! The content of the images is very unusual and while none of it is nightmareish or horror-themed, some of it is quite dark and a little eerie so do check the images below if you can be affected by dark themes to ensure that it won’t negatively affect you. In terms of concentration level, this book will adapt to those with good or poor concentration, there are plenty of natural stopping points and if using watercolours you can use sweeping strokes to colour quite quickly if you so choose, you certainly don’t need to spend hours and hours on each page unless you wish to.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book, it contains a huge variety of images and they’re really fun to colour and let loose your wildest colour schemes on, it’s great for pencils, pens and watercolours and ideal for those who want to learn more about light and shade or who don’t want to be restricted by “perfect” drawings where you have to stay inside the lines, this book is really freeing, even for those of us who are anxious and perfectionists and the finished pages look amazing!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Po Drugiej Stronie Snu
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Po-drugiej-stronie-snu-Karolin-Kubikowsk/9788379452040/?a_aid=colouringitmom
Karolina’s Website – http://www.karolinakubikowska.pl/po-drugiej-stronie-snu-karolina-kubikowska-prod258962.htm

Karolina has also recently published a second book called Ticket to Dreams which is spiral-bound and available to purchase here – http://www.radostpromaminku.cz/product/omalovanky-pro-dospele/ticket-to-dreams—karolina-kubikowska/927

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

Time of Memory: A Coloring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Time of Memory: A Coloring Book is published and kindly sent to me to review by St Martin’s Griffin. It was originally published in Korea and has been translated into English, this is one of a series of three books, the other two can be found reviewed by me here: The Story of Pandora, The Land of Dreams. All of them are written by Kim Sun Huyn and Time of Memory is also illustrated by her, whereas the other two are illustrated by Song Geum Jin so their illustration style and content is very different. Just bear this in mind and check out reviews of all three to ensure you like them all.

This book is 25cm square, paperback, with soft feel flexible card covers with beautiful coloured imagery from inside the book and half page French flaps which are left blank on the insides. The spine is glue-bound which makes it fairly durable but does mean that you’ll lose a little of each image into it unless you crack the spine which will give you better access to the centre but could eventually lead to pages falling out so do be careful. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double page spreads, a large number of them do enter the spine. The paper is bright white, medium thickness and lightly textured, water-based pens ever so slightly shadowed when using dark colours but didn’t bleed at all, alcohol markers will bleed through, pencils layer and blend well as there’s a little bit of tooth. The images themselves are a very different style from the other two books in this series on account of them being drawn by a different illustrator, the cover image is included inside but is not indicative of the majority of the images which are more basic and open-spaced. The book is split into the four seasons with the pages each including scenes, objects, and imagery indicative of that season in a Northern hemisphere country. The images include: Spring flowers, butterflies, berries, goslings, fans, umbrellas, a beach, acorns, pine cones, Winter clothing, snow scenes, and a Christmas tree. Each season is titled and a short paragraph is written about what that season means to Kim and some of her memories from childhood. At the back of the book is advice written by Kim, an Art Therapist, where she describes ways in which art therapy can be used, and the effects of different colours and what they can be used to elicit. Following this are thumbnails of each image along with the title of the spread, and a double-page spread where you can create your own illustrations.

In terms of mental health, this book is good for a whole range of conditions or symptoms, the content is wide-ranging and very natural so it’s calming and soothing to colour. The line thickness varies from thin to medium thickness and the intricacy and detail levels vary hugely from large open spaces in quite blocky designs to much more detailed pictures on a level with the cover image and everything in between. This book would suit colourists with most levels of vision and fine motor control, neither will need to be perfect for you to enjoy this book. The season theme gives this book a great level of continuity and the written childhood memories as well as pictured scenes offer a good level of nostalgia for childhood holidays at the beach, rainy summer holidays and snowy Christmasses. Many of the pages have great natural stopping points so it’s well suited to good and bad days where you want to colour just one item or section, or a whole page. You won’t need high levels of concentration to enjoy this book and while it is distracting and absorbing, it’s not hugely mentally taxing so it’s good for a range of abilities. I personally found the art a little basic, particularly when compared to the other two books in the series and it feels like a slightly adult version of a children’s book, however, that might just be me, having reviewed over 200 books you do get picky and this isn’t one of my favourites though I’m sure it would be some people’s.

Overall, I would recommend this book to those who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control who want to colour natural images. The content is well-suited to pen or pencil colourists and is nostalgic both for childhood memories and for its similarities with children’s colouring book art.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Time of Memory: A Coloring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Time-of-Memory/9781250112477/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip Pens and Staedtler Triplus Fineliners.

The Land of Dreams: An Animal Fantasy Coloring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Land of Dreams: An Animal Fantasy Coloring Book is published and kindly sent to me to review by St Martin’s Griffin. It was originally published in Korea and has been translated into English, this is one of a series of three books, the other two can be found reviewed by me here: The Story of Pandora, Time of Memory. All of them are written by Kim Sun Huyn and Time of Memory is also illustrated by her, whereas the other two are illustrated by Song Geum Jin so their illustration style and content is very different. Just bear this in mind and check out reviews of all three to ensure you like them all.

This book is 25cm square, paperback, with soft feel flexible card covers with beautiful coloured imagery from inside the book and half page French flaps which are left blank on the insides. The spine is glue-bound which makes it fairly durable but does mean that you’ll lose a little of each image into it unless you crack the spine which will give you better access to the centre but could eventually lead to pages falling out so do be careful. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double page spreads, a large number of them do enter the spine. The paper is bright white, medium thickness and lightly textured, water-based pens ever so slightly shadowed when using dark colours but didn’t bleed at all, alcohol markers will bleed through, pencils layer and blend well as there’s a little bit of tooth. The images themselves are of a land of dreams so they show the weird, wonderful and surreal and are a great mixture of reality and oddity combined, from flowers to deer with floral antlers, bears floating with balloons to a whale with a castle on his back, a Merry-Go-Round to a tree-growing elephant, a floral peacock to a regal leopard and so much more. This book is jam-packed with incredible, nature-themed imagery and all of the illustrations are delicate, floral and fantastical. There are two pages with text written in paragraphs centrally which loosely explain the Land of Dreams in broken English, and a handful of pages with a thought-provoking statement written on them, I’m guessing the text hasn’t translated very well and has been done literally rather than being edited to make complete sense as some of the sentences seem unrelated to each other and a bit random. The image placement is quite varied from double-page scenes to centralised images, illustrations placed across the centre of the spread with lots of space around them and full pages with a bit of image trailing into the opposite page, there are plenty of places where you could add your own backgrounds or illustrations if you wish. At the back of the book is advice written by an Art Therapist where she describes anti-stress art therapy and colour therapy. Following this are thumbnails of each image along with the title of the spread and a double-page spread left for you to add your own drawings.

In terms of mental health, this book offers a lot of escapism and transports you to a far off land of dreams where nothing is quite as it seems and everything is a bit magical. The images portray realistic enough subjects that you could use realistic colour schemes if you wish, but they’re also surreal enough that you could really spice things up with purple elephants, green deer and red trees, the sky really is the limit with this imagery. A few of the designs don’t completely fill the double-page spread and a couple have very large open spaces where you could easily add your own illustrations or backgrounds if you wish, there are no written hints so you don’t have to add anything unless you want to, the page will look finished regardless. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is spindly thin. The intricacy and detail levels are consistent throughout and are very high, this is one of the most intricate books I’ve seen and it’s quite difficult to colour some of the most intricate parts so you’ll need exceedingly good vision and fine motor control, as well as a good level of concentration to identify each part and keep within the lines. This definitely isn’t a book for bad days, while flicking through it will surely absorb you and cheer you up, you’ll need to leave colouring it to your good days when you can concentrate properly and give it the time it deserves. This book doesn’t tell a story but it does create a sense of place and therefore is very absorbing and distracting, ideal for when your symptoms or thoughts are starting to take over too much. The illustration style and image layout is quite different from English and American books and it can take a little getting used to but it is really beautiful and looks even nicer coloured.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to those who love the surreal and who love to colour natural and nature-themed images, this book is jam-packed with beautiful, intricate content and it really does look incredible coloured even though it does take a lot of concentration.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Land of Dreams: An Animal Fantasy Coloring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Land-of-Dreams-Kim-Sun-Hyun-Song-Geum-Jin/9781250112453/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Sudee Stile Coloured Pencils.

The Story of Pandora: A Fantasy Coloring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Story of Pandora: A Fantasy Coloring Book is published and kindly sent to me to review by St Martin’s Griffin. It was originally published in Korea and has been translated into English, this is one of a series of three books, the other two can be found reviewed by me here: The Land of Dreams, Time of Memory. All of them are written by Kim Sun Huyn and Time of Memory is also illustrated by her, whereas the other two are illustrated by Song Geum Jin so their illustration style and content is very different. Just bear this in mind and check out reviews of all three to ensure you like them all.

This book is 25cm square, paperback, with soft feel flexible card covers with beautiful coloured imagery from inside the book and half page French flaps which are left blank on the insides. The spine is glue-bound which makes it fairly durable but does mean that you’ll lose a little of each image into it unless you crack the spine which will give you better access to the centre but could eventually lead to pages falling out so do be careful. The images are printed double-sided and are all double-page spreads, a large number of them do enter the spine. The paper is bright white, medium thickness and lightly textured, water-based pens ever so slightly shadowed when using dark colours but didn’t bleed at all, alcohol markers will bleed through, pencils layer and blend well as there’s a little bit of tooth. The images themselves tell the story of Pandora, a land where time stands still and fantasy animals come alive. There are a few pages with text written in paragraphs centrally which explain the story in broken English, I’m guessing the text hasn’t translated very well and has been done literally rather than being edited to make complete sense as some of the sentences seem very unrelated to each other and a bit random. The illustrations depict a girl travelling through Pandora, there are a number of features which are clearly from Alice in Wonderland including mushrooms, a White Rabbit, Drink Me labels on bottles, flamingos, playing cards and even the main character growing and shrinking so Alice fans will love this. The pages are all spreads with some containing randomly placed objects, some showing full-page scenes and others having a smaller image with lots of space around it where you could add your own drawings or backgrounds if you wish. At the back of the book is advice written by an Art Therapist where she describes ways in which art can help to relieve stress, and colour schemes that can be used for a peaceful state of mind. Following this are thumbnails of each image along with the title of the spread and a double-page spread left for you to add your own drawings.

In terms of mental health, this book offers a lot of escapism and transports you to a far off land where nothing is quite as it seems. The Story of Pandora has a lot of similarities with the familiar story of Alice in Wonderland and this brings with it feelings of nostalgia and fondness, especially to those of us who are huge Alice fans. The illustrations are very whimsical and fantastical and not overly realistic in composition so you can really go wild with your colour choices and have multi-coloured mushrooms, pastel coloured sheep and green flamingos if you wish. A few of the designs don’t completely fill the double-page spread and a couple have very large open spaces where you could easily add your own imagery or backgrounds if you wish, there are no written hints so you don’t have to add anything unless you want to, the page will look finished regardless. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is spindly thin. The intricacy and detail levels are consistent throughout and are very high, this is one of the most intricate books I’ve seen and it’s quite difficult to colour some of the most intricate parts so you’ll need exceedingly good vision and fine motor control, as well as a good level of concentration to identify each part and keep within the lines. This definitely isn’t a book for bad days, while flicking through it will surely absorb you and cheer you up, you’ll need to leave colouring it to your good days when you can concentrate properly and give it the time it deserves. Because this book tells a story it’s got great continuity and would make a wonderful keepsake when finished, you could add more of your own story if you wish. The illustration style and image layout is quite different from English and American books and it can take a little getting used to but it is really beautiful and looks even nicer coloured.

Overall, I would recommend this book to those who have very good vision and fine motor control, those who like Alice in Wonderland, and those who love to colour intricate, detailed storybook-style colouring books. It’s ideal for pencil colourists and will make a wonderful project to colour from beginning to end to turn into a keepsake.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Story of Pandora: A Fantasy Coloring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Story-of-Pandor-Kim-Sun-Hyun-Song-Geum-Jin/9781250112460/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Sudee Stile Colouring Pencils.