Escape to Shakespeare’s World: A Colouring-book Adventure – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Escape to Shakespeare’s World: A Colouring Book Adventure is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Puffin Books. This book is illustrated by Good Wives and Warriors (GWAW) who are a creative partnership of two Glasgow School of Art graduates – their Facebook page can be found here. This book is the third in the Escape to… series, first was Escape to Wonderland, and second was Escape to Christmas Past and they’ve also illustrated a beautiful book with a German Publisher called Exotischer Urwald which is in a different format. Escape to Shakespeare’s World is based on various plays and sonnets written by William Shakespeare to commemorate 400 years since his death. This is a wonderful book, one that is essential for Shakespeare admirers, but also for those who love GWAW’s work and who love imaginative and beautiful illustrations. It is the same size and shape as the others in the series at just over 18cms square, it’s a little smaller than the bestsellers but I think this adds to the charm and it means the images are a manageable size and the book is a perfect size for travelling and colouring on the go. The book has a softback cover which is almost all double thicknesses of cardboard as it folds in on itself and when opened up it reveals a beautiful purple background with white line-drawn images of flowers. The cover has silvery-gold foiling accents which really add to the luxury of the book and are a lovely bit of extra detailing. The book contains 96 pages of double-sided, borderless images and is glue-bound meaning a little of each image is lost into the spine. I found the spine pretty tight when it arrived but with some work it has now loosened up a lot and lies flatter than it did. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads and a number of them have black backgrounds which is a really nice feature. The paper quality is very good and hasn’t bled or shadowed at all when I’ve been using water-based fineliners or fibre-tips. The paper is a creamy off-white which adds to the vintage feel of the book and is very lightly textured which I thought would be ideal for pencils but I did find it a little hard to get many layers as the tooth seemed to disappear quicker than I’d have liked or expected. However, it’s not impossible to layer and I did manage to get some nice blending. Do be sure to test the pens you’re using beforehand to avoid any disasters. Alcohol markers are a definite no because they will bleed terribly and ruin the reverse images.

The images themselves are drawn in a thin line that is pretty consistent throughout so the difficulty level doesn’t change, meaning this is not a book that will adapt to differing levels of concentration but this does lead to a really cohesive feel to the book. The images are arranged into collections from different plays and scattered throughout are a large number of quotes as well as the play they come from so it’s very easy to identify what scenes you’re colouring, even from plays you’re unfamiliar with or haven’t heard of. The majority of the images are scenes or representations of aspects of plays from a circular image of Romeo’s name filled with flowers to Venetian mask shaped scenes, Bottom the donkey, filled with flowers, to scenes from The Tempest, Egyptian landscapes from Anthony and Cleopatra to stage scenes of various plays. This book has beautiful, often very floral representations, that are sometimes realistic and sometimes symbolic, and these fit well with the quotes written on almost every double-page spread. The plays and sonnets depicted are: As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Comedy of Errors, Macbeth, Anthony and Cleopatra, Sonnet 18, Richard III, King Lear, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, and Cymbeline. Some of these plays and sonnets are only depicted on one double-page and others have multiple pages dedicated to them including Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s hard to describe the sheer volume of images and the beauty of them so I’ve included lots of photos from inside the book below and tried to photograph a good cross-section. The images are truly stunning and even if you’re not a mega Shakespeare fan, you’re almost certain to really like this book because there aren’t very many literal representations, it’s more filled with beautiful scenes of ships, flowers, animals and landscapes.

In terms of mental health, I found this book great because it’s just so beautiful and charming. The illustrations are very pretty and most are of real things, that have colour schemes that you could copy realistically if you wish, or in any colours you choose. I’m not a Shakespeare mega fan so I was a little worried that I’d find this book boring but that’s so far from the case, this book is captivating from the very first images of The Globe Theatre, Shakespeare’s birthplace and Shakespeare himself, all the way through the play depictions to the end page where a beautiful closed theatre curtain is pictured with the famous phrase All’s Well That Ends Well emblazoned across it with the comedy and tragedy masks. Good Wives and Warriors have done a wonderful job of bringing huge amounts of charm to their illustrations of even the darkest scenes and they’re all dispersed with flowers and other pretty things meaning the book doesn’t feel negative or sad at all and just lifts your spirits, even when murder is mentioned! I really enjoyed just looking through the book and reliving the stories that I studied at school and poring over each image, all exquisitely drawn and waiting to be coloured. The images are quite detailed and intricate but they’re not overwhelming so you don’t need perfect vision or fine motor control though it will need to be fairly good, and the size of the book means you don’t need really good concentration levels either. If you enjoy Shakespeare’s plays, or GWAW’s work then this book is sure to be beneficial to your mental health with its positive content and detailed images filled with hundreds of things to look at and colour. I adore the work of these talented illustrators and squealed with excitement when looking through this beautiful new instalment that they’ve created, it’s a true sign of talent when artists can inspire you to love content based on a subject you’re not especially interested in and this book does just that for me!

I would highly recommend this book, especially to those who are fans of Shakespeare and his plays, or Good Wives and Warriors’ work because this book really doesn’t disappoint. The artwork is really cohesive and I found it great for my own mental health so hopefully it’ll be just as good for yours too as it transports you back over 400 years and reminds you of key moments from his most famous plays.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Escape to Shakespeare’s World: A Colouring Book Adventure
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Escape-to-Shakespeare-s-World–A-Colouring-Book-Adventure/9780141371214/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The picture below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils. The partially completed picture was coloured with Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

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