6 years +

6 years +, Pop-Up Books, Tate

Madame Sonia Delaunay

Paper Engineered by Gerard Lo Monaco 

Published by Tate Publishing

A couple of months ago, I spent an inspiring afternoon in London admiring the fabulous 20th century work of the late great Sonia Delaunay. A critical figure in modern art, and sadly under-recognised for her talent, Delaunay explored new colour theories to create the colourful, abstract and energetic paintings, textiles and clothes. 

Gerard Lo Monaco has created 'Madame Sonia Delaunay' - this sophisticated pop up book to coincide with the 2015 exhibition of Sonia Delaunay's work. The pop up illustrations are based on Sonia Delaunay's original work and have been reconfigured with additional illustration and text to create this playful new publication. For reference, the original artworks are reproduced at the rear of the book. 

Gerard Lo Monaco is an Argentinian illustrator, art director and paper engineer based in Paris. The book is really clever and his reconfigured illustrations convey the gusto and colour intensity of the original works. A physically small book with thick matte pages, it is so exquisite that it feels like an artwork in itself. 

This book is a lovely introduction for children in to the world of art and critical thought. Each image is accompanied by a rhyming verse that is both insightful and funny. Using poetry and pop-up illustrations, children are encouraged to critique the artwork and use their imaginations to interpret the illustrations.

Join me for a treasure hunt
in Africa’s wild continent.
Searching for the crocodile -
can you see his eyes and smile?
And those other wriggling shapes,
do you think they might be snakes?

The EY Exhibition: Sonia Delaunay continues at the Tate Modern until 9 August 2015. 

Pop-Up Books, 6 years +

ABC 3D

Paper Engineered by Marion Bataille 

This is a book that needs to be held. It is awesome to experience the creation of each new letter as you turn each page and a new letter pops, slides, spins and appears. The design of this book is seriously clever.  Bataille has detailed an elaborate series of folds, cuts and glued edges to create each unique letter. The finished artwork is simple, elegant and bold with a striking colour palette of red, white and black.

The book documents all 26 letters in the alphabet and each letter moves and changes before your eyes. The letter 'A' pops out of the page, 'B' slides out from within the page, 'C' & 'D' flip out to reveal their true identity, 'S' spins within the page and the letter 'V' is reflected to reveal the letter 'W'. You get the idea, each letter is creatively unique. I think the adults in your home may enjoy this book more than the kids! 

Reviewed by Georgia White

Non-Fiction Books, Contemporary Books, 6 years +, Wide Eyed Editions

Nature's Day

Words by Kay Maguire

Illustration by Danielle Kroll

Published by Wide Eyed Editions

'Discover the world of wonder on your own doorstep' is a fantastic tagline for this book. The book starts in Spring and investigates the distinct features of each new season by revisiting 8 locations - the garden, the veggie patch, the woods, the farm, the fields, the pond, the orchard and the street. 

Author and gardener Kay Maguire, who trained at the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens has shared her vast knowledge of gardens and wildlife. Maguire has filled this book with so much detail and information that families could read one page or the whole book depending on the time you have available or the attention span of your little ones. Interesting and fun information is shared within this book by way of short, detailed and factual comments. It would be great to pull out this book at the start of each new season to be reminded of the amazing changes occurring on your own doorstep. The contents page at the beginning of the book can be used by families at the start of each new season to read the pages that are relevant at that particular time of the year. 

Danielle Kroll's illustrations are simple and have been executed with a very confident hand stroke (albeit a digital one in this instance). Only a handful of colours have been used to represent each item and it is very clever that she has been able to simplify animals, plants and the landscape down to a just a few strokes. It is beautiful how Kroll's colour palette changes subtly throughout the book to represent the change of the season. The illustrations have been created digitally and have been positioned en masse to create extremely colourful and detailed page spreads. Each page is a feast for the eyes!  

Another Wide Eyed Editions publication. I should get shares in their company! I love their work and the curiosity in our world that they inspire. 

Reviewed by Georgia White

Vintage Books, 6 years +, The Bodley Head Ltd

A Duck Called Angelique

Words by Janice Duvoisin

Illustration by Roger Duvoisin

Published by The Bodley Head Ltd 1962

As a young child, my grandparents would read me this story when I visited their home. I thought it was hilarious that a duck had been named Angelique but what I loved most was that this tattered book was also read to my mother when she was little. I liked to imagine my mother as a small child sitting in my grandmother's arms and laughing at the same story.  

Angelique was the happiest duck in France until her dear mistress Madame Germaine came home with Coco the black poodle and everything changed. The story commences by describing the simple and ordered life of Angelique. "Every morning she walked to the gate and back. She smelled the lilacs if it was spring, the roses if it was summer. Every now and then she took a bite of lettuce."

Coco has never seen a duck before and enjoys chasing Angelique. Upset that her happy life has been ruined, Angelique decides to run away and spends the night in the Luxembourg Gardens. When Angelique rescues a sparrow from being eaten by a cat, she realises that she should be at home with Madame Germaine. The book ends with Angelique gradually befriending Coco and we see a duck and a poodle sharing bathwater and the job of warming eggs. The story is simple, very sweet and spoken with a gentle humour. 

It seems likely that Janice Duvoisin wrote this story for children to relate to when a younger sibling is brought home from the hospital, to help prepare them for the imminent massive and sudden change.    

The illustration layout is a combination of black line and coloured mixed medium artwork that is alternated through the story. Coloured artwork is created with a muted palette of mustard yellow, brown, aqua and teal green with a brilliant white duck. Roger Duvoisin's illustrations are very elegant. 

I love that part of the story is set within the Luxembourg Gardens. When I originally read this book as a child, I had never been to France and the lake filled with little sailing boats looked like a kid's paradise. As an adult re-reading this story, I have been to Paris a number of times and it was more than wonderful to see the Luxembourg Gardens central to the book's plot - as it is the location where my husband and I celebrated our engagement.  

Reviewed by Georgia White

Pop-Up Books, 6 years +, The Five Mile Press

How Many?

Words & Sculptures by Ron Van Der Meer

Paper engineering at its finest. This book is colourful and seriously epic! An architectural masterpiece in it's own right. 

I love presents. And presents for no reason are the best kind! My gorgeous friend AB surprised my little one with this stunner over the weekend. And while she is a little too young to appreciate it's beauty and would prefer to eat it, I am very impressed!

Consisting of five spreads, the book invites readers to look for different shapes and colours within the epic paper sculptures that literally pop out of the pages.  The five sculptures include triangles, circles, squares, stars and lines. Interestingly, there is no front and back. All sculptures have been designed to look at them from all directions. 

Van Der Meer sets the reader a number of challenges on each page that include 'Which colour has the most triangles?', 'How many squares are transparent?', 'If you tilt the book do the squares change shape?', 'How many squares overlap?' The questions are thought provoking and math focused. Surely this is the perfect combination of fun and educational?

There is nothing to stop readers making up their own questions and rules - do shadows count as additional shapes? This book will keep the young and old equally amused for many hours. 

Reviewed by Georgia White

Non-Fiction Books, 6 years +, Wide Eyed Editions

Creaturepedia

Illustrated by Adrienne Barman

Published by Wide Eyed Editions

Creaturepedia celebrates the amazing animal kingdom and is filled with over 600 beautifully illustrated creatures. Rather than list the creatures in a traditional alphabetical format, Swiss illustrator Adrienne Barman has grouped them in to fascinating categories such as "The architects", "The champion breath-holders", "The masters of camouflage" and "The faithful". This novel idea is a great way to introduce children to the amazing array of animals and their fascinating characteristics.  Not only is it a beautiful almanac of creatures but this book is funny too. Many of the animals have been drawn as characters with personalities to match their unique traits. "The unlucky" are particularly ugly, "The endangered" are shown crying (ok, so this isn't funny but it does convey the point), "The sprinters" are so quick that they can't be captured on the page but leave clouds of dust as they sprint off the page and "The faithful" are illustrated in pairs dreamily staring in to each other's eyes. Barman's illustrations are bold, colourful and close to a comic book style. The book has been published in a high quality format with a thick cover, embossed title, bold colours and a neon orange bookmark. This book has so much to look at that it will keep the young and old amused for hours.   

Wide Eyed Editions is a publishing house that create high quality non-fiction books for children & families. As they describe of themselves, they have a 'stellar cast of illustrators and authors' on their books and have published a great number of outstanding books lately. What I love most about their books is that they explore complex themes in a simple way using articulate and bold illustrations. If you haven't already looked at their titles, I suggest you do today. Click here to visit their website. Nature's Day by Danielle Kroll & Kay Maguire is on the top of my wishlist.

Reviewed by Georgia White

Pop-Up Books, Vintage Books, 6 years +, Methuen Children's Books

The House at Pooh Corner, A Pop-up Book

Words by A.A. Milne

Illustration by E. H. Shepard

This vintage pop up book is looking a little worse for wear but is still very much loved in our home. Given to my husband by his mum when he was little, this book has been read, popped and pulled far too many times. Most of the tabs have been ripped or do not work, but the illustrations remain as beautiful as ever. This book includes six short adventures of Pooh, Piglet, Christopher Robin, Roo, Eeyore & Owl each with their own unique pop-up illustrations. 

Published by Methuen Children's Books 1986

Reviewed by Georgia White