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Popville

22 Jul

This book is fun! I’ve included it because I think it’s a great example of a book stretching the definitions of what a book is through its design.

There’s no words to look at, this is all about the structure. I like that the design of this book as a pop-up encourages a different kind of interaction with it: it’s not asking to be read, it’s asking to be played with.

I don’t actually really have anything else to say about this book. I’ve included it purely as an example of one of the many different forms a book can take when you play with its design.

Wolves

15 Jul

Read an interview with Emily Gravett about Wolves on the Pan MacMillan website. Read another interview with Emily on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
Visit Emily Gravett’s website to look inside Wolves and her other books.

Vida Kelly brought this book in to show us when she spoke to our class about children’s book design. She used it as an example of a book where she, as designer, hadn’t actually had to do too much work because the author and illustrator, Emily Gravett, already had such a good awareness of designing a picture book.

It’s a really awesome book. Firstly, it has this whole book-within-a-book thing going on that is illustrated by the pictures: as the little rabbit reads, you read over his shoulder. Sometimes the text of the story is that of the Rabbit’s library book (shown by including it on the book in the illustrations) and sometimes it’s the text of the story in your hands, in which case it’s off to the side. There’s never too much text on the page and I think that this is an excellent example of illustration and text fitting in and working together really effectively (which is obviously so important in a picture book).

I couldn’t get an image of the endpapers of this book but they were great too: very scrapbooky with the library card and other things.

Palestine

5 Jul

I’ve included this book for pretty much the same reasons as I included Maus. As a graphic novel, it’s a great example of the interaction between type, illustration and layout in telling a story. Like Maus, it’s dealing with a serious (and quite upsetting) subject in a form that’s traditionally not serious at all.

Palestine offers some great examples of how type and image can be used to contribute to meaning: I think the ‘hijab’ page is a great example of this. It’s bold and striking and there’s a lot of movement going on that pulls you in.

One issue I have with this book is the cover. I think it would have been a really effective cover if the designers hadn’t included that little yellow box in the bottom left corner with praise for Palestine. I know including praise is a great marketing tool, but why could they not have just put it on the back cover? I really don’t think there’s any point in including it on the front cover because, to me, the purpose of a front cover is to catch a passerby’s eye. Sure, include an image of a medal of some kind, but I really don’t think including tiny type that no one can read as they pass the book on the shelf anyway is going to help. And especially not if it’s placed in an awkward box that detracts from an otherwise great cover.

Maus

4 Jul

Watch an interview with Art Spiegelman in which he talks about “writing with a picture”.
Read more about Art Spiegelman on the Pantheon Graphic Novels website.

The more that I think about book design, the more I begin to consider what it is to actually ‘read’ a book. One thing that I’ve learnt this year is that there’s certainly more to it than just reading words on a page: the interplay between the design, typography and content (both the story, and the illustrations) of a book contributes to how we experience that book without us even being aware of it.

I think that graphic novels highlight the importance of achieving harmony between all the elements of a book. Even though the illustration is the attraction of a graphic novel, it needs good writing and design to tell the story. Maus is one of my favourite books because the illustration and design of the book directly relate to the story. As you read it, you can almost feel yourself falling into its world. The pictures and the words actually kind of disappear so that you feel like you’re ‘watching’ the story and I think that’s thanks to the design. The layout of the sequences is simple and clear but also varied: for most of the time it’s from box to box (these vary in size and shape) and occasionally you’ll stumble across a full-page image which will reinforce the importance of that aspect of the story.

I also think that Maus is a good example of not having to do anything particularly fancy or revolutionary with design to make a very strong point. There’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before in terms of design in this book, and even the base metaphor (Nazis are cats and Jews mice) isn’t revolutionary, but it all comes together seamlessly into what is a very affecting book.

Listography

22 Jun
See more of Listography and Music Listography on the Buy Olympia and Chronicle Books websites, and on Michael Gillette’s blog, Pencil Squeezing.
Visit the Listography Books website to see the whole range.

I love these books! I love books that encourage you to write on them, rip them, earmark their corners, spill food on them … in other words, books that encourage you to make your interaction with them a contribution to their design.

Their covers always reflect the internal design: hand-drawn, imperfect, very cute. You can’t really tell from the photos but they’re made of good, thick paper (like a nice journal) with thick cardboard covers, and they even have ribbons to keep your place. I love the detail – gorgeous, bright endpapers to contrast with the vintagey/creamy paper look of the cover and the lists inside.