Penguin Threads designed by Jillian Tamaki

Now before I begin, these beautiful Penguin Thread editions are not due to be released until October 2011 (I know, I can’t wait that long either!).

Illustrator and cartoonist Jillian Tamaki was commissioned by Penguin to design three embroidered covers for the following Penguin Classic Deluxe titles: Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, Frances Hodgsen Burnett’s The Secret Garden and Jane Austen’s Emma.

On her Sketchblog, Jillian sounds just as excited about this project as the rest of us are:

Penguin Classics! What a dream project. When I first did my Monster Quilt, I said I wouldn’t take commissions in embroidery… unless Penguin called me for a Penguin Classics cover. Sometimes you get what you wish for (times three).

Now. Take a deep breath… et voila!

jillian tamaki

Theres more!! Continue reading

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Review: Fantastic Mr Fox is… fantastic!

For Christmas, my boyfriend bought me Fantastic Mr Fox, a favourite by Roald Dahl, and Fantastic Mr Fox… the DVD! It’s been quite a few years since I’ve read any Roald Dahl and so I opted to watch the DVD first, with the theory that it couldn’t tarnish my already vague memory of the book.

The film is directed by Wes Anderson, who is believed to have signed up as director because of his love for Dahl, and thankfully, it shows. The stop-motion animation gives this movie an edginess that mirrors Roald Dahl’s quirky style and Quintin Blake’s iconic illustrations. The animation also has an element of storytelling to it that is difficult to articulate; it feels unusually close to the book. Of course, the plot has been subtly developed for the big screen, but the book is very much alive in it.

Don’t be fooled, this is not a U-rated movie. With its PG certificate, it’s as much for adults as it is for kids. The film flirts with darkness and terror: smoking. cider-drinking farmers with guns and blades; animals that are constantly ‘cussing’; and a sophisticated, humanized fox that wildly ravages his food. Yet, it is Continue reading

Review: Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama

The death of the picture book is something that I’ve recently been blogging about, but if presidential endorsement isn’t enough to secure the good old picture book, then what is!

Of Thee I Sing A Letter to My Daughters

It is pretty much impossible to approach this book without acknowledging its author, the President of the United States. Would I have bought it and reviewed it had it not been written by Barack Obama? Probably not. Would I have bought it had it been written by our own leader, David Cameron? Sorry, but no (need I explain why?).  Obama has a certain lure as far as I’m concerned, but I wonder how the Americans feel about their president taking the time to write and publish a kids’ book?

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters is a wonderful book. In a celebration of the First Amendment and “the right to read”, and in a story that is attributed to his two daughters, Obama writes an inspirational ‘letter’ that recognizes thirteen inspirational Americans, from Sitting Bull to Neil Armstrong and Billie Holiday. Simultaneously, Obama praises the American qualities that he sees in his daughters: creativity, as seen in Georgia O’Keefe; bravery, as seen in Jackie Robinson; and determination, as seen in Martin Luther King Jnr. In a touching ending, he reflects on the melting pot that is America:

People of all races, and beliefs.

People from the coastlines and the mountains.

People who have made bright lights shine

By sharing their unique gifts

And giving us the courage to lift one another up,

To keep up the fight,

To work and build upon all that is good

In our nation.

But is there a hidden political agenda to all of this? It is certainly difficult to detach the book from its author, and there are parts of the story that allude to Obama’s own political campaign, particuarly in the inspirational Cesar Chavez: “Sí, se puede!” Cesar said. “Yes, you can!”. But I fear that too much could be read into this… Continue reading