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The Land of Dreams: An Animal Fantasy Coloring Book is published and kindly sent to me to review by St Martin’s Griffin. It was originally published in Korea and has been translated into English, this is one of a series of three books, the other two can be found reviewed by me here: The Story of Pandora, Time of Memory. All of them are written by Kim Sun Huyn and Time of Memory is also illustrated by her, whereas the other two are illustrated by Song Geum Jin so their illustration style and content is very different. Just bear this in mind and check out reviews of all three to ensure you like them all.
This book is 25cm square, paperback, with soft feel flexible card covers with beautiful coloured imagery from inside the book and half page French flaps which are left blank on the insides. The spine is glue-bound which makes it fairly durable but does mean that you’ll lose a little of each image into it unless you crack the spine which will give you better access to the centre but could eventually lead to pages falling out so do be careful. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double page spreads, a large number of them do enter the spine. The paper is bright white, medium thickness and lightly textured, water-based pens ever so slightly shadowed when using dark colours but didn’t bleed at all, alcohol markers will bleed through, pencils layer and blend well as there’s a little bit of tooth. The images themselves are of a land of dreams so they show the weird, wonderful and surreal and are a great mixture of reality and oddity combined, from flowers to deer with floral antlers, bears floating with balloons to a whale with a castle on his back, a Merry-Go-Round to a tree-growing elephant, a floral peacock to a regal leopard and so much more. This book is jam-packed with incredible, nature-themed imagery and all of the illustrations are delicate, floral and fantastical. There are two pages with text written in paragraphs centrally which loosely explain the Land of Dreams in broken English, and a handful of pages with a thought-provoking statement written on them, I’m guessing the text hasn’t translated very well and has been done literally rather than being edited to make complete sense as some of the sentences seem unrelated to each other and a bit random. The image placement is quite varied from double-page scenes to centralised images, illustrations placed across the centre of the spread with lots of space around them and full pages with a bit of image trailing into the opposite page, there are plenty of places where you could add your own backgrounds or illustrations if you wish. At the back of the book is advice written by an Art Therapist where she describes anti-stress art therapy and colour therapy. Following this are thumbnails of each image along with the title of the spread and a double-page spread left for you to add your own drawings.
In terms of mental health, this book offers a lot of escapism and transports you to a far off land of dreams where nothing is quite as it seems and everything is a bit magical. The images portray realistic enough subjects that you could use realistic colour schemes if you wish, but they’re also surreal enough that you could really spice things up with purple elephants, green deer and red trees, the sky really is the limit with this imagery. A few of the designs don’t completely fill the double-page spread and a couple have very large open spaces where you could easily add your own illustrations or backgrounds if you wish, there are no written hints so you don’t have to add anything unless you want to, the page will look finished regardless. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is spindly thin. The intricacy and detail levels are consistent throughout and are very high, this is one of the most intricate books I’ve seen and it’s quite difficult to colour some of the most intricate parts so you’ll need exceedingly good vision and fine motor control, as well as a good level of concentration to identify each part and keep within the lines. This definitely isn’t a book for bad days, while flicking through it will surely absorb you and cheer you up, you’ll need to leave colouring it to your good days when you can concentrate properly and give it the time it deserves. This book doesn’t tell a story but it does create a sense of place and therefore is very absorbing and distracting, ideal for when your symptoms or thoughts are starting to take over too much. The illustration style and image layout is quite different from English and American books and it can take a little getting used to but it is really beautiful and looks even nicer coloured.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book to those who love the surreal and who love to colour natural and nature-themed images, this book is jam-packed with beautiful, intricate content and it really does look incredible coloured even though it does take a lot of concentration.
If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Land of Dreams: An Animal Fantasy Coloring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Land-of-Dreams-Kim-Sun-Hyun-Song-Geum-Jin/9781250112453/?a_aid=colouringitmom
The image below was coloured using Sudee Stile Coloured Pencils.