On Thursday I headed over to the Boston Public library to see Illustrator/Author Wendell Minor give a talk about his latest book, "Yankee Doodle America." The book is an alphabet book about revolutionary America. Inspired by a exhibition of old Inn signs at the Connecticut Historical society, Minor got the idea of painting each illustration on a special designed wooden sign. At the event, eight of the signs he created were on display.
It was a great event. Wendell, who is well known in the literary world as not only being a hugely prolific illustrator but also for taking the reigns of art director and creating many graphically pleasing and beautiful cover/inside layout designs.
His most famous collaboration is with author David McCullough. Minor chose the art work for his books "John Adams," and "1776" Minor explained that when designing the cover for Adams, he noticed that in old documents when ever Adams signed his name, he would always place a period afterwards. As if he was making a bold and confident statement with his signature.
(incidentally, while reading 1776 I fell in love with the font used at the beginning of each chapter and searched around in vain trying to find a similar type online, or at least get a name for the typeface used. To my delight Minor explained that he scanned a duplicate of the Declaration of Independence and in Photoshop created an alphabet from it-cool.)
The following is taken from Publishers weekly (cus I'm too lazy to put things in my own words):
David McCullough's John Adams and 1776—also fueled his interest in the Revolutionary era. "I've always found this period fascinating and I thought I knew quite a bit about it," he says. "But when I read 1776 and started to do my own investigating, I realized that there was a lot I didn't know. David and I have talked over the years about the importance of educating children about the founding of this country. I was very interested in finding out exactly what books existed for young readers on the subject."
Minor was thrilled when John Reichling, whom he describes as "a very talented woodworker and craftsmen," agreed to create the wooden signboards that would serve as canvas for the book's art. Minor sent him two drawings of pattern prototypes—one of the simple and one of the more elaborate historical design—and Reichling had a year to fashion 28 signs, one for each alphabet letter, one for the book's cover and one, says Minor wryly, "just in case."
(ok, my words now)
The result is a beautiful and awesome book, where A is "for acts" as in the Stamp act
B is for "Boston Massacre"
C is for "Common Sense" (a famous pamphlet by Thomas Paine which encouraged the colonists to ditch British rule.)
Just a cool idea.
OK off to the next book:
Anyone interested in cool beautiful fashion, period costuming or just pretty things should check out this book:
Dressing a Galaxy : The Costumes of Star Wars.
Now I'm not a fan of the new movies, but I think that some of the costume designs are at least interesting enough to go check the book out. I convinced a cashier at Barnes and Noble to take the sealing off one of them so I could flip through it. (I hate when books are sealed, its like the publishers are saying "trust us this book is cool, you don't neeeed to browse before buying!" Then again I know it is only to protect it from all of our grubby hands...but still it's annoying as heck.)
Well at Amazon you can get it for 30$ and at B&N it was selling at 50$
Either price, it's worth the money. This book is gorgeous. It's only the costumes from the 3 latest flicks, but so what. It features all the characters and especially some of the small or side/background ones that you don't see for every long, but deserve to have their cool outfits and makeup shown.
And of course...
there are 3 chapters devoted to Amidala. I know in a lot of her get ups she looks like some sorta strange Elizabethan Geisha, but many of her costumes are just cool looking. And the books have great pictures that show all the little details that no one but the designers and actors get to appreciate.
Check it out. Coolness schmoolness~!!
My third book recommendation is the brilliant and funny, "John, Paul, George and Ben." by Lane Smith.
Guess what this book is about..yep John Hancock, Paul Revere, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson (who was too "independent" to want his name on the title with the other guys.
This book, with humor and beautiful fun design explains in little stories what these men were like when they were kids.
Done in Photoshop using antique patterns and textures, this book just rocks and is educational.
Check out the back, I love the cracked aging binding on the right.
Each "Chapter" Lane uses his "rubbed" oil paint style.
Check out this fun interview of Lane Smith at Apple.com
HERE Clicky click me
And finally! The last cool book is called:
"The Boy, The Bear, The Baron, The Bard." by Gregory Rogers
In this wordless book, set up in comic strip style, a little boy accidentally gets transported to Shakespearean England. Those of you who have Comix makn Skillz are probably noticing or even flying on the new wave in publishing for kids in the us. Yep, graphic novel style is in Vogue now. (and ..YAY!) Publishers are finally noticing how cool comic books are and more and more of the big publishers are starting to open their own division of publishing just dedicated to this fabulous art. Look out, more children's books are going to look similar to this one...I predict!
And now that concludes my LONG (and poorly written) post.
Happy Reading! :-)