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This book, published by Batsford Books, is from my personal collection and has stayed firmly in my Top 3, most fabulous and favourite books, even with all of the new books I’ve been sent to review. It is just stunning and packed full of wonderful images of animals and flowers which are my favourite things to colour. Millie has a really unique style of illustrating and while I’ve seen many books and magazines cropping up that attempt to somewhat recreate her style, in my view, they all fall short in comparison to Millie’s beautiful original creations. This is so much more than a colouring book, it is a true work of art! You can get a copy for yourself here Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom – A Colouring Book Adventure
Paper quality is a little difficult to judge because the book has been printed so many times that they have used a number of different types and qualities of paper for printing. I ordered my copy at the beginning of 2015 and mine has yellowy/cream thick paper that has visible texture to it, it’s lovely and thick and has had no issues with bleeding despite using my Stabilo .88 fineliners which are often the nemesis of adult colouring books. However, I was very disappointed when in May I ordered a second copy for my mum to use in hospital after an operation and realised that despite it coming with beautiful, bright white paper, this was actually thinner and her fineliners bled badly ruining the images on the back of each page she coloured. From what I’ve seen in Facebook colouring groups and recent Amazon reviews this problem has been rectified and the paper is now white, thick, with no issues with bleeding but I cannot guarantee this as I’ve not got the most recently printed copy.
The images in this book are printed double-sided which is not an issue in copies with the decent paper quality. It is a paperback book with a glued spine and while most of the images are contained to one side of the paper, those that are double-page spreads do sadly lose some of the middle of the image into the spine (some people get around this by taking their book to an office supplier or book binding shop and getting it spiral-bound). The book itself is a large square (same size as Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest) and contains well over 100 images to keep you busy for weeks if not years!
In terms of mental health, this book is very intricate, similar in intricacy levels to Johanna Basford’s books (Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest) but don’t let this put you off. You can use pencils, fine-nibbed felt tips, fineliners and gel pens, all with great effects and the images aren’t so detailed that you’re put off or overwhelmed. If you have vision problems or issues with fine motor control then you may struggle with this book but for any of the rest of you I’d suggest giving this book a go and persevering into a more intricate world. The natural scenes of animals, flowers and trees definitely create a sense of calm and this is my go-to book when I really need to focus on something and be distracted. It’s detailed enough that you have to focus and concentrate and this lends itself wonderfully to drowning out any anxious or disturbing thoughts you may want to shift. Other books that are less detailed can be good for calming but they’re less distracting as they involve less concentration so if you’re feeling particularly plagued then intricacy is usually the way forward though there’s a fine line between being distracted and becoming more frustrated so be careful. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is really quite thin so I’d advise colouring during the day or near a very good desk lamp, both my mum and I have made the mistake of thinking we can get away with colouring this book in bad lighting and realising just what a mistake it was the next morning when we’ve got gaps or gone over the lines. The cohesion of this book being illustrated by one person throughout is just lovely and means it’s not bitty or all over the place like some books made by multiple illustrators can be. It almost feels like a story is being told as you turn the pages and it really is a book to work through and finish rather than just picking out your favourite images – of course this is fine to do too.
I can’t praise this book highly enough, every time I look through it I’m struck by the beauty of the images and there are so many ways of colouring them using rainbows, monochrome, black and white, mixed media and many more. If you’re stuck for ideas then just put the title into Google Images or Pinterest and you’ll be flooded with inspiration (good luck narrowing down your choice of colours after that)! This book is highly detailed and beautifully delicate though some of the images have a detailed and less detailed copy (see the cockerel below) that you’re meant to add your own details to but can be coloured as they are with amazing effects and may be more suited to those who don’t have the patience or visual acuity to colour the most intiricate images. Many of the patterns drawn onto the animals can be coloured over in blocks as well making them less intricate and giving your colouring texture and pattern rather than outlined spaces to colour so the possibilities are endless. I urge you to give this book a go, you really won’t be disappointed, you can purchase a copy here Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom – A Colouring Book Adventure. For those of you who already have Animal Kingdom and are wondering where to get your next creature colouring fix from, Millie’s new book Millie Marotta’s Tropical Wonderland: A Colouring Book Adventure is being released in just 12 days on the 25th of June in the UK and looks set to be just as wonderful – I’m already signed up to review a copy and will post a review just as soon as I can for you all.
Happy colouring and if you have any coloured in pictures from this, or any other books that you’d like to share then head over to my facebook page, I’d love to see them!