A Beautiful Picture Book

Hello again everyone! I know I’ve been away for a while – various things have kept me from blogging, but I’m back now and firmly resolved not to do another long hiatus. Hope you’ve all been keeping well by the way, and that 2015 is treating you well!

Right — the following post is one I should have done a long time ago, and I have been remiss in leaving it so late – but better late than never, I hope.

The lovely Emily, she of the Keyboard and the Open Mind ran a little competition a couple of months ago in celebration of reaching a landmark number of followers (congrats again Emily!) Shockingly I won – this is shocking because I never win. At anything. So winning in itself was thrilling, and the prize (an Amazon voucher!) was a phenomenal cherry on top of that cake.

I got stuck for a while, trying to decide what book to get. It had to be something special, something a bit different (certainly not a kindle book) – although that did very little to narrow down the options. I um and ahhed (meaning that I wasted hours browsing through Amazon. Always fun). In the end it came down to a beautiful coffee table book on Neil Gaiman, or this:

I first heard of it over on Jilanne’s blog, and it’s a real treat, not just because it’s a gorgeous book with absolutely stunning illustrations (more on that later) but also because it’s not the kind of book I would have bought for myself. Normally, I mean. I have a reading list as long as my forearm and whenever I buy books I always buy something on the list in an effort to reduce it (of course, for every book I buy I add a good three or four to the list, so it’s a never ending battle, and one that I have no interest in winning.)

I can’t recommend Lindbergh enough to anyone thinking of buying a picture book as a gift or for themselves -just look at the stunning illustrations below. It tells the story of a bookish little mouse (a mouse after my own heart) who, having spent ages locked away reading human books (maybe he also had a huge reading list to get through)…

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… returns to find himself the last remaining mouse in a city now riddled with mouse traps.

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The intrepid little guy must evade cats, owls, and the deadly traps, and find a way to get himself to the US to rejoin all his mouse friends.

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While the story is lovely, the real treat for me were the pictures. They remind me of the kind of picture books I had as a child, some inherited from parents and grandparents. Not that I don’t like current children’s books, but many of them have what looks to me like computer generated images – it’s rare to find illustrations that have been crafted with such obvious care and attention to detail as the ones in Lindbergh. Each one is a piece of art in its own right, and as such, the book takes pride of place, displayed in the middle of my bookshelf.

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So thank you again Emily, I wouldn’t have bought this book if not for your very kind voucher, and also a thank you to Jilanne for putting me onto Lindbergh in the first place!

PS: where do you guys all stand on the issue of using books as decorations? I’ll admit, I organise them according to the colour of their spine. I always feel a tad guilty, like I’m being a bit shallow, but I can’t help it. It’s part of the reason why I’m obsessed with the Penguin English Library collection (the beautiful stripy spines you can see next to Lindbergh.)

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16 thoughts on “A Beautiful Picture Book

  1. Ooh, that’s so pretty!! I want it now! My books aren’t organised by colour, but I do think it looks fantastic. I can’t bear to separate my series, and they’re often different colours. I also agree that massive lists are so stressful! 😛

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    • Oh yes, a series should definitely be kept together! I do also like to keep books by the same author together, but inevitably with modern authors the books are all different colours. First world problems eh? Luckily my library is pretty small so it’s easy to find what I need – I do buy quite a bit on the kindle (sadly) as Hong Kong is a bit limited space wise…

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  2. I just gave away 12 filled-to-the-brim bags of books to the upcoming library Spring Sale. Now I can reward myself with a few new mice, ‘er I mean books. You are so right about ‘real’ illustrations vs. computer-generated, and these are so whimsical.

    I TOTALLY use my books as art decorations in my home, including my bathroom. There is nothing shallow about appreciating ever aspect of a book, including its colorful spine!!

    I’m glad you have time to blog again 😋

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    • Exactly, now that you have all this space, you have to fill it! 😉

      I’m intrigued now, what books do you have in your bathroom? I have a few books as decoration in the living room actually – a beautiful cloth bound editing of the Canterbury Tales, a big leather bound volume of Sherlock Holmes’ tales, and a very old edition of Cyrano de Bergerac. They’re almost too beautiful to read (almost)

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      • Those sound like beautiful books, Celine. I have a pretty wire rack in my bathroom and I switch out a few books periodically. Right now I have Girl With the Pearl Earring and Lydia Cassatt: Reading the Morning Paper plus a couple of short story anthologies – one by Wallace Stegner that I am emjoying immensely. I’m not a “sit on the pot and read” bookie, but I just like showcasing a few at a time.

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  3. Those are interesting illustrations in the mouse book, and I like how the cover is printed to look old and worn. It is possible that they were done on a computer instead of with actual watercolor paints, but they don’t look like it, which is the point. (Maybe a lot of illustrations in children’s books these days have that computer-generated look because someone thinks it’ll appeal more to modern kids. Silly, but I can see where such a notion would come from. Today’s five-year-old sees GGI in her Saturday morning cartoons, after all.)

    Does it count as ‘using books as decoration’ if I’m just showing off my collection? (Nothing of value except to a fellow book nerd, but still…) I don’t organize my books according to color or anything like that, although I do like to keep all books in a series together, as well as all books by the same author — except hardcovers and paperbacks aren’t mixed, because that interferes with the most efficient use of shelf space (trust me, that’s definitely an issue).

    A possible solution to organizing books according to color while wanting to keep series together, etc.: use attractive yet inexpensive paper to make “dusk jackets” for ALL your books, even the paperbacks. That way you could give every book in a series the same color jacket, and even color-code your books according to genre or whatever. I’ve seen photos of this, even plain brown paper looks rather good if the titles are written on the spines in calligraphy lettering or an interesting color of ink.

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    • The author and illustrator is actually an artist who does beautiful watercolours – the illustrations are all hand drawn. Isn’t that wonderful?
      Efficient use of shelf space is an essential, although I can’t resist having certain books like Lindbergh on display. At the moment my collection is still quite small because I had to give away all my books before we moved to Hong Kong so I’m slowly rebuilding it, but I’m sure that soon I’ll have to forgo having display books as it were.
      That’s a fantastic idea re the dust jackets! I’m already thinking that by getting nice printed paper it would look amazing.

      Oh and showing off your book collection definitely count as decoration. As a fellow book nerd, I don’t think there is any room that couldn’t be improved by a bookcase and a collection of books 🙂 I love looking through people’s libraries – it tells you a hell of a lot about a person too.

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  4. That’s a gorgeous set of illustrations, Celine! One of the things I don’t like about “adult” books is they usually don’t have those wonderful pictures the children get.

    I am one of those alphabetical organization people, so my books are roughly grouped by author last name. No decoration for me, although it looks wonderful…my bookshelves are so full that I have several layers on each shelf. That’s why I need that alphabet, otherwise I’d never find anything! 😉

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    • I totally agree with you Sue – I also wish adult books came with illustrations. It’s a shame that people decided images are childish (and why should they be thought childish? illustrations are a form of art after all, right?) Especially with any kind of fantastic genre, it would be amazing to see an artist’s interpretation of what a particular creature / places looks like.
      Ah, I envy your bookshelves. I had to give away most of my books when we moved to Hong Kong (a sad sad day) and I’m rebuilding my collection slowly now that we have space for a bookshelf. It’s still very small, bigger than the photo I posted but definitely still too small for an alphabet system. I think the day I need one will be the day I feel I’ve grown my collection to a decent level!!

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  5. Hi Celine, how nice to see you 🙂

    I like the book a lot. That’s why I love childrens books, some of them have incredible illustration… though I think that most are still done by hand. I think.

    As for bookshelves, I have mixed behaviours. I like grouping them by subject, but then I tend to give them some kind of esthetical order inside the group. I like colourful spines and I don’t mind to mix them, but I prefere to have books of the same size colse together.
    Funny, now that I think about it.

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    • Hi Sarah, lovely to hear from you!
      That’s funny, I prefer books of the same size to be together – I think it’s fair to say that every book nerd out there has their own little quirks about how they like to arrange their books. As a way to make us extra book nerdy 😉 Wouldn’t it be great though to one day have such an extensive collection that a real alphabetical system is needed?

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  6. It’s obvious that those illustrations have been crafted painstakingly… with much love and attention. They’re really beautiful! 🙂
    I hear you on the “never ending battle, and one that I have no interest in winning.” It never ends, does it? Mine is virtually toppling over…
    Hope you’re well, Celine!
    (P.S. Are you doing the A to Z challenge this year?)

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    • Hi Michelle, it’s lovely to hear from you! Hope you’re doing well too. Yes, I’m going to do A to Z, I was hesitating as I’ll be away for the first 2 weeks of April but I’ve sorted out enough posts that I think I can make it 🙂 I’m guessing you’re doing it too?

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