I have a bunch of picture books that I have been meaning to review for a while but never got around to do it, so I gathered them all up and decided to post a special post for Christmas, although it's not monday yet! They are not just Christmassy stories, but books that would make perfect gifts for Christmas or anytime!
First is a really special edition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It's called We are all born free
Twenty-eight famous illustrators have offered their personal interpretations of the thirty articles of the Declaration, transforming it into a thing of beauty and creativity. I wish I could show them all to you, but you watch a preview on the Amnesty website, as well as read the article on the book.
Reading the articles is a somewhat painful experience, because it makes me think of how easily these basics rights are denied every day somewhere in the world, so I prefer to concentrate on the wonderful illustrations. There are few from some of my favourite artists: Polly Dunbar, Alan Lee, Chris Riddell, Jane Ray... Then there some stunning ones of artists I had never heard of like Hong Sung Dam or Jackie Morris. Definitely a book to behold, to discuss, and to treasure.
All proceeds will go to Amnesty International.
Next in line is The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry and illustrated by P.J. Lynch (remember?).
This classic short story has been recently interpreted by P.J Lynch and the result is gorgeous! The story is heart-breaking and deeply romantic, although very old-fashioned (especially when referring to the wife as the possession of her husband...). But again I'm drawn to it mainly by its gentle watercolours, and the feeling of instant classic that the paintings inspire. You can watch a slideshow here.
P.J. also has a channel on youtube with some very interesting videos showing the process of making an illustrated book. Here's one:
My next choice is Leon and the Place Between by Angela McAllister and Grahame Baker-Smith
A completely different thing from P.J. Lynch, this book is all about magic and whimsical illustrations created with mixed techniques.
Follow this link to look at some of Grahame Baker-Smith's art. Fascinating, isn't it? He uses a lot of gold and purple and stars and mad details and decorations to create something which can only be described as stunning.
The story adds a lot to it as well. One day Leon and his brothers go to the magic show. But only Leon truly believes in it. When the show starts everybody is spellbound, until Leon is invited to enter the magic box. A whole world shows itself to him. The Place Between, the place where magic takes you. Ever wonder where things go when they disappear? In the Place Between of course! But not everybody can see this place. Only those who believe...
For true dreamers!
And lastly, I'd like to introduce you to Miki by Stephen Mackey.
"On midwinter eve when an icy wind blew,This is a real feal-good christmassy book.
the moon weaved her magic and wished came true."
In a land far far away, there lived Miki and her friends. All around them was cold and dark so Miki wished she could find a little tree, and at once a little tree sprang up in front of her. So starts her story.
Everything she wished that night came true. She wished to decorate the tree and a string of fairy lights appeared. She wished a twinkle machine appeared and it did! But then the penguin grew tired of cycling to make it twinkle. So then Miki wished she could catch a star, because it would shine forever. And that's when she was pulled into the icy sea by a huge white whale and her adventure began...
This is an enchanting story told through rhymes and soft paintings. Set in a magic arctic-like land, it's full of fuzzy polar bears, cute penguins, and then sea creatures like octopuses and jellyfishes and crabs. I love its colours, all tones of blue and green and cream, and the textures of the brushes which looks smooth and velvety. Stephen Mackey is an author to watch.
To have a look at the sketches for this book click on the video below:)