Everything You Need for a Celebration

MimiIt’s been a busy few weeks around here. I’m still trying to figure out where the summer part of summer is!

But.

It’s all been fantastic things.

I taught a Photoshop and Graphic Design to kids in a Summer Session up at my school, and it was so much fun. Exhausting and crazy-making, but it was awesome to spend a couple weeks with kids who were creative, fearless, and super engaged.

That graphic at the top?

A fifth grader’s. She’d opened Photoshop for the first time in her life about twenty minutes earlier. OBIEWe studied Brian Won’s work (and his process post here!) for texture and shape, and I made them this guy as an example. He’s kinda cute, right?photo 3If you don’t know who these guys are, you’ve got to check out a student film (I think?) of Jon Klassen’s, An Eye for an Annai. The kid who made this said it if it had been a book it would be her very favorite of all time.

(My students dropping hyperbole on the glory of stories?! Are you shocked?!)

And for those story-crazed students and their story-crazed librarian, a huge expansion is in the works. I’ve always had the greatest job in the school, but now I’m going to have the most gorgeous spot in which to do it. Lucky.photo 1And ALA!

A few weeks ago, one of the highlights of my weekend was meeting my editor. Cause this book I wrote is happening, and I’m still pinching myself to make sure this is real life. Taylor is the most kismet-y match for this book, and I can’t wait to bring this thing into the world with her. treehousepressSUPER SQUEAL. I know.

And then somewhere along the way this blog picked up over 10,000 followers. Ten thousand! That’s a huge, humbling number, and I’m so so grateful for each of you.

So I looked up my top ten posts, and I’d like to give away these ten books. You made them popular, so perhaps you’d like one of your own?!

Pantone Colors

Bruno Munari’s ABC

I Want My Hat Back

Symphony City

Flora and the Flamingo

The Lion and the Mouse

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

Iggy Peck, Architect

Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth

                                                           Hello, Mr. HulotbreakerAlso, I’m going to buy these books at Once Upon a Time in Montrose, CA. I love that bookstore anyway, but when they tweet you things like this:

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 7.15.43 PM  … I’d pretty much like to buy one of everything from them forever and ever.

All you have to do is leave a comment here by Monday, July 28th at midnight PST. And if you tweet this link so more people can play, I’ll give you an extra entry.

To books, to art, and to making lots more!

(Note: I can only open this giveaway to the US and Canada, so if you are farther flung than that, I send my love to you anyway! Thank you so much for spending time here with me.)

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PS: If you’re commenting for the first time, I’ll manually approve it. Don’t panic if it doesn’t show up right away. Thank you!

 

Book-Gifting Guide: For the Design Devotee

For the young reader, the old artist, and everyone in between. Here are a couple handfuls of spined-up art museums. Some have flaps and things to flip, some have acetate papers that carefully reveal things below, some are massive, some are mini. All are spectacular.

(I’m linking each book to its respective publisher. Consider shopping at your local bookstore or Indiebound. Happy reading!)

GiftGuide2013_One1) Pantone Color Puzzles // by Tad Carpenter  ⏐⏐ Abrams Appleseed

2) One Night, Far From Here // by Julia Wauters  ⏐⏐  Flying Eye Books

3) Walk This World // by Lotta Nieminen ⏐⏐ Big Picture Press

4) Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas // by Philippe Coudray ⏐⏐  Toon Books

5) Jane, the Fox and Me // by Franny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault ⏐⏐  Groundwood Books

GiftGuide2013_Two6) Maps // by Alexsandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski ⏐⏐ Big Picture Press

7) House Held Up By Trees // by Ted Kooser and Jon Klassen ⏐⏐ Candlewick Press

8) The Big Book of Art // by Hervé Tullet ⏐⏐ Phaidon

9) The Goods: Volume 1 // by McSweeney’s  ⏐⏐ Big Picture Press

10) Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design // by Chip Kidd  ⏐⏐ Workman

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Alphablock

Alphablockby Christopher Franceschelli, art by Peskimo

published 2013, by Abrams Appleseed

AlphablockAlphablockThis book. Swoon city. Hefty chunk of graphic design. Just as fascinating and fantastic for adults as well as the stubby fingers of the littles. “You’re never too old for picture books” is my constant battle cry at school. Let’s amend that a bit to “you’re never too old for board books.”

Because wow.AlphablockAlphablockCan you see what’s happening here? Each letter of the alphabet is given two thick spreads for the hint and the reveal. It’s a visual puzzle, linked by a die-cut of the hero letter. For real.AlphablockAlphablockFiguring it out is a satisfying read, and physically flipping the letterform for the answer is brilliant.AlphablockAlphablockNot only does the design feel fresh, but the alphabet choices are newfangled, too. I love S is for SCISSORS and the cut-out arts and crafts that accompany it. P is for PENCILS gets the lined paper treatment, scattered with sharpened pencil shavings. And thank goodness F is for FISH gives us a glimpse into an aquarium with its kooky accoutrements, and not the obvious deep blue sea scene.Alphablock

Image courtesy of Abrams Appleseed

Image courtesy of Abrams Appleseed

Image courtesy of Abrams Appleseed

Image courtesy of Abrams Appleseed

(And any book that uses U is for UNDERWEAR is obviously a hands down favorite, too.)

Add this to your gift-list. Perfect for babes and art buffs alike. (And pretty much anyone who loves the alphabet.)

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Review copy provided by Abrams Appleseed.

Pepi Sings A New Song

  by Laura Ljungkvist

{published 2010 by Beach Lane Books}

I’m a huge fan of Laura Ljungkvist’s sophisticated and playful style. Remember Follow the Line?

Pepi Sings a New Song is a delightful romp through a world of words. Pepi meets and greets his neighbors, from Manuel at the bakery to Cynthia at the dog park, all in search of stanzas for a new song.

ElementOfDesign.ColorThe vibrant color on each page adds life and zest to Pepi’s journey. It separates each pit stop, and subtly references the full circle journey Pepi makes in search of a song. And? It’s just darn beautiful.

That baker, Manuel, lives on pretty pastry pink pages.

Aurora’s art studio is framed by a cool, creative, blue.

Clive’s music studio is on a brassy, golden orange, which perfectly echoes his trumpet. (And his awesome plaid pants.)

Love this book, love Pepi, and once again — love Laura Ljungkvist.

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Robot Zombie Frankenstein!

by Annette Simon

I am kookoo crazy bonkers for this book. Like, we’re talking nuts.

When I opened this book at the Candlewick Booth at ALA this summer and saw THOSE ENDPAPERS, I did this move: slam the book shut, say ‘no.way.’ about a billion times, and make my eyeballs about five times their normal size. True story. {You can probably ask Dianne de Las Casas, although at the time I think she was ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the lovely Tammi Sauer‘s Princess In Training!}

Anyway.

I love this book. I love its unpredictability, its wacky pace, and its larger than life robots who have larger than life imaginations.

{And its author, Annette Simon — I love her, too!}

And I love, love, love the smorgasbord of shapes. Even the shape of the book itself is a big blocky square. Well, maybe it’s a slightly squished rectangle.

I’m not busting out the ruler on a holiday weekend!

You can’t tell me that his expression isn’t absolutely hysterical, can you?!

Remember those endpapers? They are a breakdown of all of the various robot parts. So brilliant. You could make this: (!!!!!!)

(image from this fun post!)

And I don’t want to give away the ending, but there’s a treat involved that makes this book an extra special read this tasty time of year. Read this book. Prepare for a zany adventure. Make that robot above, too!

P.S. — A huge heart shaped thank you to Candlewick for sending me this book. All thoughts are still my own. 

AND!

Speaking of robots — congratulations to LAURA S.! Did you win the Boy + Bot giveaway? AFFIRMATIVE! Email me your address, and these goodies will hit the road!

backseatabsee

Backseat A-B-See

by Maria van Lieshout

What you can’t see from this picture is the texture of the spine. It feels like canvas, maybe? And the front and back cover are offset from it a bit? So many question marks. So not familiar with the intricacies of bookmaking!

Point is…it’s a nice touch. (BAD PUN ALERT!)

But really, it is! This book is so striking before you even open the cover, and that danger zone spine is just one of the reasons.

This is the inside cover, and Maria van Lieshout’s homage to the designers of street signs. LOVE IT. And she’s right, saying, “We don’t usually give thought to the story behind the signs.”

Did you know these symbol signs received the Presidential Award for Design Excellence in 1984?

ME NEITHER!

So, like she says: Please DO ENTER!

We look at these signs every single day, and rely on them to communicate the rules of the road. Wouldn’t it be harder to read and harder to keep safety first if they were fancy and less bold?

Bet you didn’t count on a trip to the DMV when you stumbled across this blog today, but the shapes matter! Pay attention.

Did you know?

Octagons = Stop

Upside Down Triangle = Yield

Circle = Almost always a railway crossing. Choo chop!

The Long Rectangle Created By Opening This Book = The shape of a road, directing your reading road trip

Oh, the 101. I drive this road every. Single. Day. As tedious as that sounds, (and IS in rush hour!) this page gave me a little extra grin.

A Penguin Story

{by Antoinette Portis}

I heard Antoinette Portis speak this summer at SCBWI in LA and she was a sheer delight — funny, smart, and so willing to share her creative process. I missed an opportunity to pick up a signed copy of this book earlier this summer at Once Upon A Time in Montrose, and have been kicking myself ever since. I’d say soaking up her picture book brain in person was a worthy replacement.

Take note of these bright, beautiful endpapers. We’ll be back for these.

Edna, our penguin heroine, sees endless white, black, and blue. She doesn’t complain or act like a brat about it, but she is convinced there is something else. And off she goes in search of it.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this illustration. She’s been shimmying up and down icebergs and sliding long distances through the Antarctic snow, and she won’t give up. And here, you, the reader, can rally for her because SHE’S RIGHT! She doesn’t know it yet, but you do, and even though you loved her before, you love her a billion times more now.

Can we talk about color again? I know we just went all tetradic-fancy-color-scheme-boom last time, but I just can’t help myself.

Ok, so after Edna flies through the air with some fish bones, she lands face first in a snow drift. NEXT TO THE SOMETHING ELSE. (Sorry for yelling, it’s just so…something else!) The page turn here is out of control amazing, so I’m not gonna spoil it for you. But trust me, when she digs her little penguin head out of this bank and realizes where she is and what she sees? Exhilarating.

This something else is orange. ORANGE. Of course! Antoinette Portis could have made it red or yellow or green, but orange! The Antarctic scientists have orange gear, orange planes, and orange homes.

Colors in a complementary color scheme exist directly opposite one another on the color wheel. Here, blue and orange. Edna’s real world and her something else. Design schemes utilizing complementary colors are especially vibrant and strong, because when paired together, each makes its complement appear brighter. And isn’t this Edna’s realization? That her world is brighter because she knows of the something else? What Antoinette Portis did visually to carry this story is nothing short of dazzling.

But why is this endpaper green? No spoilers. Read this one, watch this one, experience this one.

Henri’s Walk To Paris

So Saul Bass {1920-1996} illustrated this. You know him, even if you think you don’t.

Recognize any of these?

Saul Bass undoubtedly has a powerful legacy of corporate logo design, but he is also considered the father of the title sequence. I can’t say that I was well aware of him before I was a motion graphics designer, but as an animator, I am very influenced by his strong use of line and his bold color palettes.

{You can see a roundup of his title sequences at Art of the Title.}

And that’s fancy and whatnot, but then he created this sparkling kids’ book.

Henri is just a little French garçon who dreams of Paris, but lives in Reboul. He packs up some cheese, a carrot, and a piece of bread and walks himself there. But {SPOILER ALERT!} he doesn’t make it. A little bird disrupts his navigation, and he ends up right back in Reboul. But Henri? Thinks he made it, and thinks Paris is quite like home. And we love him for that.

In graphic design, unity is the quality that ties individual elements into a beautiful whole. Me talking about Saul Bass is like a dirty sock puppet oozing with glue and googly eyes having an opinion on Jim Henson. He’s a master craftsman, and so let me just show you some moments I love.

Check out these consecutive spreads. The typographic element that reflects the title IS Henri. And from one page to another, there he goes, walking off to Paris. This graphic drives your eye forward and invites you to dive into this book. And of course it tiptoes left to right. It’s how we read, and it simply signifies forward motion. Smart is an understatement.

He doesn’t clutter this illustration with a window sill, curtains, or many details of the room inside. It doesn’t matter. The story is outside. This is a brilliant use of negative space.

Henri’s tiny house, contrasted with the vast world beyond. And color…green and red are direct opposites on the color wheel, so the tiny pop of red is a perfect choice to offset the mass of green.

Soothing pattern repeats in those thousands of trees and the zoo full of animals.

A reminder of the cover, a peek into Henri’s walk. And below, a shift in perspective and point of view.

So Henri leaves home and returns again. Likewise, Saul Bass’ pictures ramp up to the climax of the story, and repeat again as Henri heads home. That same window repeats, that same wide shot of the tiny white house sits still again, only with different text for a different time in the story. It’s a detail that’s hard to show in pictures, but on an overall visual read of the story…it’s magnificent.

Henri’s Walk To Paris in reprint is a gift I didn’t even know I was was on my wish list. It’s joining this monster on my coffee table-slash-corner of my desk.

hippopposites

Hippopposites

This book is lame.

You absolutely do not want to add it to your library.

I am not one single bit of a goofball.

Wait, what?

by Janik Coat

Opposite Day, clearly.

But really? This book is SO AMAZING I WANT TO SHOUT OUT FROM THIS DUSTY VALLEY AND GO PET A HIPPO! AND KEEP SCREAMING! It’s cool to carry a board book around with your wallet and lipstick and iPhone right? Even when you have no kids?!

So this delightful little board book has a big concept, and that alone shouts contrast. Contrast just-plain-old refers to when two elements are different. Each spread of Hippopposites showcases two things that are opposites, beginning with small and large.

Too obvious? How about full and empty?

Or opaque and transparent?

And a tactile soft and rough.

My jaw dropped when I saw the very clever front and side. {No spoiler. Trust me on this one.}

I probably overuse the word ‘brilliant’ on this blog, but seriously…this just is. The bulbous red hippo with his two beady black eyes has zest and a dazzling personality. He’s a charmer. And irresistible. {Definitely not opposite descriptions.}

You definitely do not want this book.

Actual Size

Steve Jenkins’ concept for Actual Size is simple. Showcase creatures at their actual size. Truly. Right there on the cover is a teeny pygmy mouse that fits just snug up against a gorilla thumb.Smaller animals fit nicely in the frame, but some are way too massive to fit in the confines of the book’s pages. And that is the spark and fun investigation of Actual Size.

Did you ever look a giant squid in the eye?

How many dwarf gobies do you think fit in that squid’s eyeball?

Even before I studied graphic design, I was drawn to the cut paper collages of these illustrations. Don’t you just want to hug on that ostrich’s neck? So tactile and inviting.

I just looked at size in my most recent post, LMNO Peas, and it’s another clear choice here. And, well…uh…the title is Actual SIZE. But in this book, the goal is for the reader to interact with the pages, to compare and contrast sizes among different animals. And just how big is your hand compared to that gorilla’s? The illustrations in LMNO Peas use size to guide layout and movement within one page, and Actual Size tackles size to guide contrast.

Ever wonder why there are only SEVEN elements of design and a million billion trillion pictures and images in the world? (No? Just me on a lazy Saturday night?) Well that’s why. Seven foundational elements that can combine and solve problems differently in those million billion trillion ways.

His teeth are so massive that it takes a three page foldout to show them all! Chomp.

The adorable little pygmy mouse lemur is the size of my keys. {Can you spot my Burbank Public Library key tag under there? I think I owe them $3.00.}

I love a good elephant. Always.

And just in case you needed any more convincing about how incredible this book is, how about a pictorial glossary of all the animals scaled to fit? Thank you, Steve Jenkins, for making a picture book that is just as informative as it is beautiful…even if it doesn’t fit on my bookshelf very well.