January 26, 2015

Mariana Ruiz Johnson: Mama

Another children's book published by Bohem in German. "Mama" (Mother) is written and illustrated by Argentinian illustrator Mariana Ruiz Johnson. It's more a collection of pictures and a hommage to all mothers than a book to read out. One might miss the story. There is no storyline and very less words. The colourful ornamental illustrations however are beautiful and expressive. No wonder Mariana created this book when she herself became a mother. Mariana has a blog and facebook page, take a look!

This book lets me think of Paul Klee's paintings and obviously this was the illustrator's intention.

Click here to purchase this book in Spanish or French.

January 20, 2015

Cláudio Thebas / Violeta Lópiz: Amigos do Peito

It's one of the rare books I think it's great from the front cover to the back with every single page in-between. There are so many details to discover and the illustrations are so courageous and special. I love this book! The text in Portuguese is by Cláudio Thebas, Miguel from Bruaá Editora kindly sent me the translation. So I could read the lovely poem and follow Violeta Lópiz' interpretation. Violeta's illustrations show a little boy on his way back home from school. He comes along all his friends' places and finds out at the end that they are all waiting for him at his place. The English title would be "Friends of the Heart".

On my research about the illustrator Violeta Lópiz I've read what is written about her on the publisher's website. Everything worth to know is said there brilliantly in short form:  
"Violeta Lópiz was born in Ibiza in 1980 and began to illustrate very early, with 2 years. Her most productive and creative period develops up to 6 years, when she virtually loses all her artistic skills due to a very common mental illness in children: growth. When the disease reaches its splendor she gets a job in a music school as a teacher and that’s how, after her young students inflicted some blows with the blades of the xylophone, she recovers some creative skills. She starts her delearning process at Madrid’s Art School nº 10, where she unlearns that work is something undesirable and forgets that being older is being more boring. She does her internship at El Mundo newspaper, where she restarts doodling and gradually begins to receive orders from several publishing houses that invite her to play again. Even though her condition is irreversible, her slow advances give her great satisfaction and allow her to communicate with the teachers of tender age. Her progress can be found in some bookstores, walls, streets, fairs, newspapers and thousands of notebooks that she leaves scattered around."

At the wonderful Picturebook Maker blog (TAKE A LOOK) Violeta shares the creative process of her work and shows her first sketches with felt-tip pens.

Though I couldn't read it to my kids because they understand neither Portuguese nor English they had a lot of fun searching for the little boy with the black cat who shows up on every page.

 Another great book published by Bruaá Editora: here.

January 12, 2015

Van de Vendel / Van Hertbruggen: Der Hund, den Nino nicht hatte

"Der Hund, den Nino nicht hatte" (The Dog Nino Didn't Have) is a Belgian/Dutch children's book. The Geman edition has been published by Swiss/German publishing house Bohem this month. The atmospheric illustrations are by Anton van Hertbruggen. The story, written by Edward van de Vendel, is about a boy and his imaginary dog. Together they experience all kinds of adventures until one day the boy got a real dog as a present ... How strong the fantasy of a child could be and how much children can see where adults only see what's not there! I really like the message. The imaginative in contrast to the "real" world could not have been drawn better. Look at the last three pages below with all the "invisible" animals sketched with quick grey pencil strokes.

Bohem has some more lovely books in their current catalogue. I will show you one more soon. Here it goes to the original, the French and Danish edition.

January 05, 2015

Nicolas Robel: Topo Limbo

The turn of the year is always a good time to clear up a little, isn't it? So I used the holidays to organise my workspace. What I found is this book by Nicolas Robel, one of the three founders of B.ü.L.b Comix. I wrote about their great comic boxes before. I've got the booklet from this lovely lady some time ago. It's part of the series "Tolle Hefte" published by Büchergilde Gutenberg. The illustrations in five spot colours are offset prints with the colour separation done by the artist himself (not by scanner). The colours, especially the orange, are much brighter than on the photos I've made today with very less light ... The text is in German. It's a diary telling the story of three teenagers wandering around a mysterious island.


Last year another "Tolles Heft" has been published: "Die seltsame Orchidee" by H. G. Wells, illustrated by Katja Spitzer. Take a look

December 22, 2014

A Treasury of Wintertime Tales / Das Wintermärchenbuch

When it's cold and dark outside and the candles are lit it's good to have a book like this at hand to read out to the kids or alone on the sofa. "A Treasury by Wintertime Tales" by Taschen contains 13 tales from around the world dating 1823 - 1972. Each tale is illustrated by a different artist, among them Beatrice Braun-FockIlona Karasz and Louis Slobodkin. The book is actually a collection of  the most beautiful picture books including stories about loosing mittens, snowflakes that come to life, the Chinese New Year, a Snow King and classics like "The Night Before Christmas" by Clement C. Moore.

I want to dive deeper into all those stories over the Christmas holidays. Some of the tales are a bit out of time of course and when reading them with my kids I reword or simplify some text passages because both are too young to know what a "dairyman" is or a "storm window". Some of the Christmas traditions they never heard of but together with the pictures the stories work very well. The book is edited by Noel Daniel and published in German and English.

Merry Christmas to you my dear readers! Thanks a lot for sending me your wonderful books and thanks so much for your support and feedback here and over there!

Most I would love to have the original edition by "Too many mittens" (below), written by Florence Slobodkin and illustrated by Louis Slobodkin in 1958.

December 12, 2014

Berlin Wonderland: Wild Years Revisited, 1990 – 1996

Yes, there was a time before Berlin became a city of the "Kreativitätsindustrie". Almost forgotten given the chic facades of Berlin's Mitte district nowadays. In the years right after the Wall came down in 1989 subcultures boomed in the abandoned ruins and streets where the border had divided the city into East and West. More than 200 black and white images on over 240 pages show how much Berlin-Mitte has changed since then. As David Wagner says in the preface: "They show the 'before'. The 'after' is visible in Mitte now, every day." So, it's great to have these photographs in this literally wonderful book.

I like the typeface a lot. It's Euclid Flex mixed-up (hidden, contrasted, dotted).

 Death strip in Northern Berlin, 1990, by Philipp von Recklinghausen

 Ernst-Thälmann-Park, 1993, by Rolf Zöllner

 "Mutoid Waste Company", Reichstag, 199,2 by Philipp von Recklinghausen and Hilmar Schmundt

"Berlin Wonderland" is the first publication by bobsairport, a photo agency run by Anke Fesel and Chris Keller. Visit the website berlin-wonderland.de to read more about the photographers and "protagonists" of Berlin's "wild years". The book is distributed by Gestalten. All interviews and quotes are in English and German. To purchase a copy click here or here.


The images above and below as well as the cover and many more are by Ben de Biel, co-founder of the "Ständige Vertretung" nightclub in "Tacheles" (below), member of the "Elektronauten" and part of the "IM Eimer" collective. In 1998 he founded the club "Maria am Ostbahnhof".

December 09, 2014

Dieter Braun: Die Welt der wilden Tiere

Another book for children and adults alike. "Die Welt der wilden Tiere", published by Knesebeck, is an encyclopedia and also a picture book. It contains more than 80 animal portraits with short descriptions and a nine page index showing every animal again in small format. I came across illustrator Dieter Braun before via his posters and fine art prints which are sold here and here for instance. For his animal illustrations he combines vector graphics to dynamic geometrical compositions which are never static and never boring to look at. The beauty of the wild packed in digital shapes and structures... As the book shows wild animals living in the southern hemisphere there might follow a second book presenting the animals of the north. I hope so (want to see some bears and elks).