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Buena Vista: A Colouring Book for Lovers of All Things Spanish is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Johan Murray Learning. This book is illustrated by Lizzie Mary Cullen who has previously published three books in her very distinctive illustrative style (I reviewed The Magical Journey here). This new book is part of a geographical series which is a bit of a step away from her original books but they have some really fun features and are most definitely still quirky! A second in the series is already published and has been reviewed by me here.
This book is 25cm square, the same size as her previous books and the bestsellers, it’s paperback with flexible card covers and a blue spine with blue accents on the cover. The spine is glue and string-bound and most of the images are contained to one side of the spread so not too many enter the spine. The paper is bright white, medium thickness and lightly textured, water-based pens don’t bleed at all and only shadow if you press particularly hard with a dark colour, pencils work fine on the paper and you can certainly blend and shade to create effects. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads but most are single pages with centralised images that don’t go near the spine. This book contains lots of images of Spanish architecture, Spanish food and other things inspired by Lizzie’s travels around the country. Each page contains a phrase or saying written in Spanish and each picture contains a small hidden item that relates to that phrase. At the back of the book is a list of the phrases written in Spanish, what they mean in English and what the English version of that phrase or saying is. Following this are thumbnail images of each illustration identifying what and where the hidden item on that page is. Each page in the book is numbered making it easy to identify the phrase and hidden items on the clue pages at the back. The imagery isn’t quite as Spanish as I’d have liked but it does have some typically Spanish things like flamenco dancers, fans, Sagradea Familia, castanets, the city of Ronda, and more. All of the illustrations are drawn in Lizzie’s signature fish-eye lens style so everything is warped outwards with few, if any, straight lines. Some of the images have the text externally and others have the text worked in as the main feature of the image. There are quite a large number of mandala-style images which although pretty, have little or nothing to do with Spain and feel a little out of place. This book would be a good present for someone who’s learning Spanish or planning to go to Spain soon.
In terms of mental health, this book is great distraction but can be quite challenging. Lizzie’s illustration style isn’t for everyone, the warped perspective of each image can make identifying the content quite difficult and so some people are put off by this, however, if you take time to identify each section and work out what parts should be what colour, the finished image can look incredible! The line thickness is consistent throughout and is thin and spindly thin. The intricacy and detail levels vary from moderate to extremely detailed so you will need very good vision and fine motor control to make the most out of this book. You will need a very good level of concentration in order to identify the image parts and to work out the perspective of each illustration. There isn’t a specific testing page at the back of the book but there are a number of pages where you could easily test your mediums to ensure that they don’t bleed through or react badly with the paper. The book offers a good level of escapism and transports you off to Spain through the food, scenery, and architecture that is unmistakably Spanish. It even might help with your understanding of the Spanish language as you read and possibly learn some of the phrases written throughout the book. There are quite a lot of centralised images where space is left that you could use to add your own drawings of backgrounds, however this is by no means compulsory and the images will look finished without any added features.
Overall, this is a really nice book that is well thought through, the phrases and sayings written throughout are a really novel concept for a colouring book and a great way of theming the images and this book takes you on a lovely trip through Spain all from the comfort of your own home. The images aren’t as Spanish as I’d have liked and the unique perspective of Lizzie’s illustrations does make identifying some of them quite tricky, but persevere and you’ll be greatly rewarded with some incredible finished artwork!
If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Buena Vista: A Colouring Book for Lovers of All Things Spanish
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Buen-Vist-Lizzie-Mary-Cullen/9781473640191/?a_aid=colouringitmom
The image below was coloured using Staedtler Noris Coloured Pencils.