The Magical Journey: A Colouring Book – A Review

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The Magical Journey: A Colouring Book is illustrated by Lizzie Mary Cullen and was published and very kindly sent to me to review by Penguin Books. This book is the third in Lizzie’s ‘Magical’ series but it’s the first title I’ve owned so I can’t make direct comparisons to the other books apart from saying that it’s the same size and format as her previous titles. This book is 25cm square, paperback with flexible card covers that have ¾ flaps which open out front and back to reveal black line drawn images which can be found within the book (these are fully colourable). The cover has a soft feel and has pastel coloured sections and silver foiling accents which make it look beautiful. The paper is bright white, lightly textured and medium thickness, I fully expected bleed through but there was none with my water-based pens and only the very lightest shadowing in a few places which is easily covered and won’t harm the reverse image. Pencils work well on this paper and I’ve been reliably informed that it’s the same paper as the previous two books so you can use all of the mediums you’ve used in her previous titles. The spine is glue and string bound and the images are borderless so a little of each is lost into the spine but I found it eased up very quickly and I was able to get into the book gutter fairly easily so this isn’t a major issue at all. The book contains 96 pages of double-sided illustrations which are a mixture of single and double-page spreads.

This book is exactly what the title states, a magical journey. Lizzie has been travelling around the world in order to garner inspiration for her illustrations and she has illustrated herself and a pug called Paddy travelling through the different countries she visited so the images are arranged into collections of destinations from specific countries. There is even a small treasure hunt through the book where you’re asked to find objects like chopsticks or surf boards (answers are shown in thumbnail images at the back of the book). Lizzie has a very unique illustration style which is quite daunting to look at as you try to work out where to start colouring but it’s worth persevering because these images look truly incredible when fully coloured, a quick google search of her previous book titles should provide plenty of inspiration if you’re stuck. There are very few straight lines in Lizzie’s work and most of her pictures are drawn as if seen through a fisheye lens or are warped in some way, the illustrations are all curvy and quite circular which takes a little getting used to but helpfully she’s added written titles which are subtly placed within each design to tell you where it’s of so you can have a quick google if it’s not somewhere you’re familiar with. Lizzie takes us to places within London, South America, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and the USA. She’s included illustrations of travel; objects; food; scenery and landscapes; buildings and landmarks; and animals and wildlife so it’s a real journey around the world!

In terms of mental health, this is a wonderful book for escapism, it takes you to far off places and helps you explore the world, even if you can’t leave your own home. The illustrations are quite tricky to identify at points which means you’ll probably want to stick to colouring this on your good days where your concentration is high so that you don’t inadvertently colour any bits in wrong. The line thickness varies from thin to medium in different illustrations but mainly sticks at the thin/medium weight. The intricacy and detail levels vary throughout from large open spaces to some very small sections, some pages have larger blockier illustrations and others have lots more component parts so there is a fair amount of variance which will adapt to your better and worse days of functioning. This book would suit those with moderate to good vision and fine motor control but by no means does it need to be perfect to enjoy it! Some of the pages have very large gaps around a centralised image and others have a double-page spread where the second half has been left with a large amount of space for you to be able to add your own illustrations or backgrounds if you wish but there are no written hints and the illustrations do look finished so there’s no obligation at all to add your own drawings or backgrounds unless you want to; only 5 single pages are drawn in this style so they’re easily ignored if you don’t like drawing. One very handy feature of the book is the test page at the back which you can use to test your colouring mediums on without ruining any of the images first, this is such a helpful feature and one that I wish was found in more colouring books! This book truly does take you on a magical journey around the world and offers great escapism. All of the images are of nature, scenery and landscapes and this is very calming, especially once you start colouring and have identified all of the sections.

I would highly recommend this book to people who are already fans of Lizzie’s work from her previous two colouring books, and to people who like to travel and want to colour their way around the world. Lizzie’s illustration style is quite daunting to start and does take some getting used to but do persevere, it looks incredible finished and is well worth the effort!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available to pre-order here and publishes on Thursday:
Amazon UK – The Magical Journey: A Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-Journey-Lizzie-Mary-Cullen/9781405927987/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’re new to Lizzie’s work and would like to purchase her previous titles, they’re available here:
The Magical City
Amazon UK – The Magical City
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-City-Lizzie-Mary-Cullen/9781405924092/?a_aid=colouringitmom
The Magical Christmas
Amazon UK – The Magical Christmas: A Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-Christmas-Lizzie-Mary-Cullen/9781405925136/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip Pens.

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