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Romantic Country: The Third Tale – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Romantic Country: The Third Tale is published and kindly sent to me to review by St Martin’s Griffin. I’ve been looking forward to this book being published for such a long time and I was delighted when it arrived just a few days ago and I was able to complete my Romantic Country collection. I think that the second book is my personal favourite, it seems the most cohesive and most exciting in terms of content, however, this third instalment is beautiful too though the story does jump around from us being shown Elena meeting Joset the duck in Chapter 4 to seeing new scenes of shops and places we’ve seen in previous books as well as visiting new islands and areas. The book is illustrated by Eriy, a Japanese artist who creates her work using a toothpick dipped in ink. This whole book took approximately 900 toothpicks and because of the way the lines are created they’re not a uniform thickness and aren’t a stark black colour (more on this later). This series was the series I’ve been hoping would be made, with its childlike charm but with adult levels of intricacy, it’s what I always felt was missing for me in JB’s books, don’t get me wrong, hers are stunningly beautiful, I really love them, but they’re a little too perfect for my imagined perfect series. Eriy’s books are utterly charming, not quite perfect, and truly heart-warming and that’s what makes them so wonderful.

This book is square, the same size as the bestsellers, paperback, with a removable paper dust jacket with partially coloured images from the book on the front and back. The book itself has brown card covers with two line drawings from inside the book and blank covers on the inside. The paper is a lovely rich creamy colour (it’s hard to describe but it’s a little warmer in colour than the paper in Johanna’s first two books but not yellowy and it’s the same as in the previous Romantic Country titles), and it’s thick and doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens when used carefully, it also holds up well to water and doesn’t bleed through with Derwent Inktense pencils. The paper is lightly textured and while you can’t get loads of layers, pencils do lay down well on it and it’s perfectly possible to get some lovely blending and layering. The spine is glue and stitch-bound so it’s durable but a little difficult to get to the centre of each spread, however, spines of this type do ease up with use so do persevere. The images are printed double-sided and borderless and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads so a little of each image is lost into the spine to begin with.

The images themselves are beautiful, charming, and begging to be coloured and are split into the following 5 chapters: 1. Peaceful Days in the North; 2. Peaceful Days in the South; 3. Beautiful Island Scenes; 4. Good Times for Elena and Joset; 5. The Passage of Time in the Secret Forest. The book starts with a single page spread showing a map of the islands of Cocot (the name of the land in which the first two books are set, which was dreamt up in the imagination of Eriy when she was a child), depicting the landmarks introduced in this book. Following this, are two double-page spreads showing mapped scenes of Sarryska Island and Cocot North, and Uisce and Melati Islands and their landmarks which are pictured in more detail later in the book so you can clearly see where they’re situated in relation to each other. Following the maps, the images show beautiful scenes of children posting letters to Santa Claus, vegetable carts, snow-capped castles, farmyard scenes, cutlery and crockery, a library, Island traditional dress, a lamp shop, inside a boat, a picnic, fairies, mermaids, a dragon receiving healthcare, a witch’s hat shop, and so much more. Each image is shown as a thumbnail at the back of the book too with a short description telling you more about each place and life there. At the back of the book are two fully colourable pages with single-sided scenes to cut out and assemble into a 3D shop that Elena and her duck friend Joset, are visiting.

In terms of mental health, I doubt there’s a book (or series) that’s better for it in all honesty! Certainly for mine anyway! The illustrations are so charming and because they have a beautiful childlike quality to them they really have a nostalgic aspect which will remind you of colouring books you used as a child but with so much more detail and intricacy that it’s still very entertaining as an adult. The content is wonderful because it whisks you off to a simpler, happier, gentler place where there is a slower pace of life and mythical creatures live alongside people and even witches are good. The line thickness varies throughout because Eriy draws with a toothpick and so it naturally varies however the majority of the lines are thin but not spindly so they’re perfectly colourable with moderate vision and fine motor control. The lines themselves are not a stark black, they’re an uneven brown because they’re drawn in dipping ink and while this may not sound great and does take a little getting used to, it truly adds so much charm to the drawings and these illustrations just wouldn’t look right drawn in harsh, black, perfect lines. The images range in intricacy and detail from large open spaces in some of the landscape pages, to small intricate details of vegetables, books and leaves, and everything in between, it’s very wide-ranging but the intricacy level in this book is significantly higher in most images than in Romantic Country though most of the images would still be suitable for those with moderate, or higher, vision or fine motor control so this is a great book for nearly anybody! The images are detailed and contain lots of things to look at and colour but most are not so overwhelming that you don’t know where or how to start and because they’re all depicting real things like buildings, plants, and food, they’re easy to work out colour schemes for whether that be subtle pastels, realistic browns and greys, or bright fantastical colours, this book isn’t so perfect that you don’t want to touch it which is part of its huge appeal. The images are less cohesive in this book and don’t tell a chronological story, however, they do create a wonderful sense of place and they offer great escapism as you walk through the streets, castles, countryside and shops, by the end of the book you really feel like you’ve visited the fantastical lands and you’ll be planning your next visit as soon as you can!

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to colour scenes, landscapes, shops, food and flowers. This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen, it’s cute, pretty, whimsical, magical and charming and it truly is the book of my dreams, and hopefully of yours. If you don’t already have the first two Romantic Country titles then get them too, this series is truly perfect!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this gorgeous book then it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Romantic Country: The Third Tale
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Romantic-Country-The-Third-Tale-Eriy/9781250133830/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Book 1 and 2 are available here.

The image below was coloured using Holbein Artist’s Colored Pencils and blended using a Caran d’Ache Blender Pencil.

Mein Sommer Spaziergang (My Summer Walk) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Mein Sommer Spaziergang (My Summer Walk) is published and kindly sent to me to review by Bastei Lübbe. This book is one of four season-themed colouring books illustrated by Rita Berman, a highly talented German illustrator. This series of books is truly stunning, it’s not often that I get hugely excited by books now because I have so many but when I saw Rita’s illustrations online I knew I had to have these books and when they arrived I was honestly blown away by their beauty, there’s so much detail and content packed into each book and they really do typify and epitomise each season. I can’t enthuse about them enough, they’re just beautiful! The books are all identical in format and therefore my review of each is the same, as are the mental health benefits, skip straight to the second paragraph about content and photos at the end to see what’s inside this title.

The book itself is slightly smaller than the bestsellers at 20cm square, it’s paperback with a partially coloured image from inside the book on the front cover. The spine is glue and string-bound so it’s durable and strong and will ease up with use; many of the images are full page designs and therefore a number of them do reach or span the gutter however as the spine becomes more supple, you’ll be able to reach almost all areas of the page. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads, the book contains 72 pages of images, at the back of the book are three pages showing the book covers of the other three titles in the series. The paper is bright white, medium/thick and lightly textured, water-based pens didn’t bleed or shadow when I tested them but dark colours or colouring the same spot may cause shadowing so do ensure that you test them yourself in an inconspicuous area; coloured pencils blend and shade well. The images themselves are where these books really come into their own, there are similar style images in each book but they’re heavily tailored to each season and it’s very clear from looking through each book which season it’s dedicated to. A couple of images in each book are repeated across two books e.g. sunflowers in the Summer and Autumn books, sheep in Spring and Summer and a Spring scene in the Winter and Spring books.

The drawings range from double-page spread scenes to wreaths, centralised images to random object spreads and a few pattern pages, all usually related to the season theme. The content ranges from beach scenes, seagulls and beach huts to ice cream, fruit and sunshine, there are woodland scenes, seashells, blossoms, birds and hill views, picnic tables, jars of jam, duck ponds and camping, vegetable patches and quite a few cats through the pages. The imagery really does sum up Summer and childhood memories of beach or camping holidays. The illustrations are all drawn quite realistically but each is filled with patterns and small sections to colour which really opens up the possibilities of how to colour them. The pages are filled with cute, whimsical and friendly-feeling images, none are intimidating, they just welcome you in to fill them with colour.

In terms of mental health, this whole series of books is just wonderful, the images are really natural and the content is very cute and packed with details so each time you flick through the book you notice more in the images. Because of how the illustrations are drawn, with mostly realistic outlines of obviously recognisable things but filled in with patterns and whimsical doodles, you can either colour the pages realistically, or in outlandish colour schemes and either will look totally fabulous as you’ll see from completed pages on social media. The line thickness is consistently variable throughout, each image is outlined in a medium/thin line with thin-lined details. The intricacy and detail level varies across the images from low-ish to very high, however, don’t despair if your vision or fine motor control aren’t perfect, they don’t need to be, none of the parts are impossibly tiny to colour and many of the images can be simplified by colouring over the internal patterns rather than within them which instantly reduces the intricacy to a much lower level for almost all of the images. The size of the book is ideal because it’s smaller than most and therefore doesn’t require quite so much time to complete each page, the content varies from full double-page spreads depicting scenes to much smaller images so it’s ideal for those with fluctuating conditions or poor concentration as you can colour one object or group of objects on a bad day, or colour a full double-page spread when you’re feeling focused and well. The illustrations create a wonderful sense of place and offer great escapism, they really transport you into Rita’s super cute world filled with charming animals and beautiful plants and flowers and away from any difficulties or symptoms you might be experiencing.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book and the rest in the series, they complement each other beautifully and really transport you into a whimsical world. The pages offer a manageable project for any level of functioning and they are just gorgeous when finished.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Mein Sommer Spaziergang (My Summer Walk)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Mein-Sommerspaziergang/9783404609291/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can read my reviews of the other books in the series here.

The page below was coloured using Holbein Artist’s Colored Pencils and blended using a Caran d’Ache blender pencil.

Mein Frühlings Spaziergang (My Spring Walk) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Mein Frühlings Spaziergang (My Spring Walk) is published and kindly sent to me to review by Bastei Lübbe. This book is one of four season-themed colouring books illustrated by Rita Berman, a highly talented German illustrator. This series of books is truly stunning, it’s not often that I get hugely excited by books now because I have so many but when I saw Rita’s illustrations online I knew I had to have these books and when they arrived I was honestly blown away by their beauty, there’s so much detail and content packed into each book and they really do typify and epitomise each season. I can’t enthuse about them enough, they’re just beautiful! The books are all identical in format and therefore my review of each is the same, as are the mental health benefits, skip straight to the second paragraph about content and photos at the end to see what’s inside this title.

The book itself is slightly smaller than the bestsellers at 20cm square, it’s paperback with a partially coloured image from inside the book on the front cover. The spine is glue and string-bound so it’s durable and strong and will ease up with use; many of the images are full page designs and therefore a number of them do reach or span the gutter however as the spine becomes more supple, you’ll be able to reach almost all areas of the page. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads, the book contains 72 pages of images, at the back of the book are three pages showing the book covers of the other three titles in the series. The paper is bright white, medium/thick and lightly textured, water-based pens didn’t bleed or shadow when I tested them but dark colours or colouring the same spot may cause shadowing so do ensure that you test them yourself in an inconspicuous area; coloured pencils blend and shade well. The images themselves are where these books really come into their own, there are similar style images in each book but they’re heavily tailored to each season and it’s very clear from looking through each book which season it’s dedicated to. A couple of images in each book are repeated across two books e.g. sunflowers in the Summer and Autumn books, sheep in Spring and Summer and a Spring scene in the Winter and Spring books.

The drawings range from double-page spread scenes to wreaths, centralised images to random object spreads and a few pattern pages, all usually related to the season theme. The content ranges from pussy willow branches to fields of sheep, crocuses, daffodils and tulips, spring bulbs and vegetables to mice, countryside and nesting birds. There’s a beautiful bunny, lots of feathers, eggs, and butterflies, there are pond scenes, woodland walks, and all manner of things that you’d expect to find in Spring and at Easter. The illustrations are all drawn quite realistically but each is filled with patterns and small sections to colour which really opens up the possibilities of how to colour them. The pages are filled with cute, whimsical and friendly-feeling images, none are intimidating, they just welcome you in to fill them with colour.

In terms of mental health, this whole series of books is just wonderful, the images are really natural and the content is very cute and packed with details so each time you flick through the book you notice more in the images. Because of how the illustrations are drawn, with mostly realistic outlines of obviously recognisable things but filled in with patterns and whimsical doodles, you can either colour the pages realistically, or in outlandish schemes and either will look totally fabulous as you’ll see from completed pages on social media. The line thickness is consistently variable throughout, each image is outlined in a medium/thin line with thin-lined details. The intricacy and detail level varies across the images from low-ish to very high, however, don’t despair if your vision or fine motor control aren’t perfect, they don’t need to be, none of the parts are impossibly tiny to colour and many of the images can be simplified by colouring over the internal patterns rather than within them which instantly reduces the intricacy to a much lower level for almost all of the images. The size of the book is ideal because it’s smaller than most and therefore doesn’t require quite so much time to complete each page, the content varies from full double-page spreads depicting scenes to much smaller images so it’s ideal for those with fluctuating conditions or poor concentration as you can colour one object or group of objects on a bad day, or colour a full double-page spread when you’re feeling focused and well. The illustrations create a wonderful sense of place and offer great escapism, they really transport you into Rita’s super cute world filled with charming animals and beautiful plants and flowers and away from any difficulties or symptoms you might be experiencing.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book and the rest in the series, they complement each other beautifully and really transport you into a whimsical world. The pages offer a manageable project for any level of functioning and they are just gorgeous when finished.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Mein Frühlings Spaziergang (My Spring Walk)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Mein-FrAhlingsspaziergang-Rit-Berman/9783404609284/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can read my reviews of the other books in the series here.

The page below was coloured using Holbein Artist’s Colored Pencils and blended using a Caran d’Ache blender pencil.

Mein Winter Spaziergang (My Winter Walk) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Mein Winter Spaziergang (My Winter Walk) is published and kindly sent to me to review by Bastei Lübbe. This book is one of four season-themed colouring books illustrated by Rita Berman, a highly talented German illustrator. This series of books is truly stunning, it’s not often that I get hugely excited by books now because I have so many but when I saw Rita’s illustrations online I knew I had to have these books and when they arrived I was honestly blown away by their beauty, there’s so much detail and content packed into each book and they really do typify and epitomise each season. I can’t enthuse about them enough, they’re just beautiful! The books are all identical in format and therefore my review of each is the same, as are the mental health benefits, skip straight to the second paragraph about content and photos at the end to see what’s inside this title.

The book itself is slightly smaller than the bestsellers at 20cm square, it’s paperback with a partially coloured image from inside the book on the front cover. The spine is glue and string-bound so it’s durable and strong and will ease up with use; many of the images are full page designs and therefore a number of them do reach or span the gutter however as the spine becomes more supple, you’ll be able to reach almost all areas of the page. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads, the book contains 72 pages of images, at the back of the book are three pages showing the book covers of the other three titles in the series. The paper is bright white, medium/thick and lightly textured, water-based pens didn’t bleed or shadow when I tested them but dark colours or colouring the same spot may cause shadowing so do ensure that you test them yourself in an inconspicuous area; coloured pencils blend and shade well. The images themselves are where these books really come into their own, there are similar style images in each book but they’re heavily tailored to each season and it’s very clear from looking through each book which season it’s dedicated to. A couple of images in each book are repeated across two books e.g. sunflowers in the Summer and Autumn books, sheep in Spring and Summer and a Spring scene in the Winter and Spring books.

The drawings range from double-page spread scenes to wreaths, centralised images to random object spreads and a few pattern pages, all usually related to the season theme. The content ranges from pine cones and Christmas trees to Wintry mountain scenes and penguins, mittens, hats and scarves to the northern lights, Christmas biscuits and an advent calendar, even Father Christmas makes an appearance! This book contains everything you would want from a Winter and Christmas-themed book with multitudes of stars and snowflakes, baubles, Winter sports and even a Christmas market scene. The illustrations are all drawn quite realistically but each is filled with patterns and small sections to colour which really opens up the possibilities of how to colour them. The pages are filled with cute, whimsical and friendly-feeling images, none are intimidating, they just welcome you in to fill them with colour.

In terms of mental health, this whole series of books is just wonderful, the images are really natural and the content is very cute and packed with details so each time you flick through the book you notice more in the images. Because of how the illustrations are drawn, with mostly realistic outlines of obviously recognisable things but filled in with patterns and whimsical doodles, you can either colour the pages realistically, or in outlandish schemes and either will look totally fabulous as you’ll see from completed pages on social media. The line thickness is consistently variable throughout, each image is outlined in a medium/thin line with thin-lined details. The intricacy and detail level varies across the images from low-ish to very high, however, don’t despair if your vision or fine motor control aren’t perfect, they don’t need to be, none of the parts are impossibly tiny to colour and many of the images can be simplified by colouring over the internal patterns rather than within them which instantly reduces the intricacy to a much lower level for almost all of the images. The size of the book is ideal because it’s smaller than most and therefore doesn’t require quite so much time to complete each page, the content varies from full double-page spreads depicting scenes to much smaller images so it’s ideal for those with fluctuating conditions or poor concentration as you can colour one object or group of objects on a bad day, or colour a full double-page spread when you’re feeling focused and well. The illustrations create a wonderful sense of place and offer great escapism, they really transport you into Rita’s super cute world filled with charming animals and beautiful plants and flowers and away from any difficulties or symptoms you might be experiencing.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book and the rest in the series, they complement each other beautifully and really transport you into a whimsical world. The pages offer a manageable project for any level of functioning and they are just gorgeous when finished.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Mein Winter Spaziergang (My Winter Walk)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Mein-Winterspaziergang/9783404609178/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can read my reviews of the other books in the series here.

The page below was coloured using Holbein Artist’s Colored Pencils and blended using a Caran d’Ache blender pencil.

Mein Herbst Spaziergang (My Autumn Walk) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Mein Herbst Spaziergang (My Autumn Walk) is published and kindly sent to me to review by Bastei Lübbe. This book is one of four season-themed colouring books illustrated by Rita Berman, a highly talented German illustrator. This series of books is truly stunning, it’s not often that I get hugely excited by books now because I have so many but when I saw Rita’s illustrations online I knew I had to have these books and when they arrived I was honestly blown away by their beauty, there’s so much detail and content packed into each book and they really do typify and epitomise each season. I can’t enthuse about them enough, they’re just beautiful! The books are all identical in format and therefore my review of each is the same, as are the mental health benefits, skip straight to the second paragraph about content and photos at the end to see what’s inside this title.

The book itself is slightly smaller than the bestsellers at 20cm square, it’s paperback with a partially coloured image from inside the book on the front cover. The spine is glue and string-bound so it’s durable and strong and will ease up with use; many of the images are full page designs and therefore a number of them do reach or span the gutter however as the spine becomes more supple, you’ll be able to reach almost all areas of the page. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads, the book contains 72 pages of images, at the back of the book are three pages showing the book covers of the other three titles in the series. The paper is bright white, medium/thick and lightly textured, water-based pens didn’t bleed or shadow when I tested them but dark colours or colouring the same spot may cause shadowing so do ensure that you test them yourself in an inconspicuous area; coloured pencils blend and shade well. The images themselves are where these books really come into their own, there are similar style images in each book but they’re heavily tailored to each season and it’s very clear from looking through each book which season it’s dedicated to. A couple of images in each book are repeated across two books e.g. sunflowers in the Summer and Autumn books, sheep in Spring and Summer and a Spring scene in the Winter and Spring books.

The drawings range from double-page spread scenes to wreaths, centralised images to random object spreads and a few pattern pages, all usually related to the season theme. The content ranges from ploughed fields and haystacks to orchard fruits and mice, squirrels and birds to rain showers, Thanksgiving turkeys to root vegetables, kites flying in a blustery wind to mushrooms, pumpkins and Autumn leaves, and even migrating geese, everything you can think of that symbolises Autumn is pictured in abundance in this book. The illustrations are all drawn quite realistically but each is filled with patterns and small sections to colour which really opens up the possibilities of how to colour them. This book was the first published and as such, a few of the images are drawn in a slightly different style from the other three books in the series and are much emptier, more on this later. The pages are filled with cute, whimsical and friendly-feeling images, none are intimidating, they just welcome you in to fill them with colour.

In terms of mental health, this whole series of books is just wonderful, the images are really natural and the content is very cute and packed with details so each time you flick through the book you notice more in the images. Because of how the illustrations are drawn, with mostly realistic outlines of obviously recognisable things but filled in with patterns and whimsical doodles, you can either colour the pages realistically, or in outlandish colour schemes and either will look totally fabulous as you’ll see from completed pages on social media. The line thickness is consistently variable throughout, each image is outlined in a medium/thin line with thin-lined details. The intricacy and detail level varies across the images from low-ish to very high, however, don’t despair if your vision or fine motor control aren’t perfect, they don’t need to be, none of the parts are impossibly tiny to colour and many of the images can be simplified by colouring over the internal patterns rather than within them which instantly reduces the intricacy to a much lower level for almost all of the images. This book has a five images that are quite different from the rest in this, and the other books in the series, these are much emptier and feel less finished, there are no written prompts on the pages but you could certainly add your own patterns or imagery if you wished, or just leave them as they are and finish them off with beautiful colours and backgrounds if you fancy. The size of the book is ideal because it’s smaller than most and therefore doesn’t require quite so much time to complete each page, the content varies from full double-page spreads depicting scenes to much smaller images so it’s ideal for those with fluctuating conditions or poor concentration as you can colour one object or group of objects on a bad day, or colour a full double-page spread when you’re feeling focused and well. The illustrations create a wonderful sense of place and offer great escapism, they really transport you into Rita’s super cute world filled with charming animals and beautiful plants and flowers and away from any difficulties or symptoms you might be experiencing.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book and the rest in the series, they complement each other beautifully and really transport you into a whimsical world. The pages offer a manageable project for any level of functioning and they are just gorgeous when finished.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Mein Herbst Spaziergang (My Autumn Walk)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Mein-Herbstspaziergang/9783404609161/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can read my reviews of the other books in the series here.

The page below was coloured using Holbein Artist’s Colored Pencils and blended using a Caran d’Ache blender pencil.

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.