Sprookjesbos - written review, video review, and photos of the Dutch edition of Croatian book, Vilin San by Tomislav Tomic

Sprookjesbos (Dutch Edition of Vilin San) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Sprookjesbos is published and very kindly sent to me to review by BBNC Uitgevers. Sprookjesbos is the Dutch edition of the Croatian book, Vilin San, a comparison post and video of the two can be found here. It is the second book by Tomislav Tomic, illustrator of Zemlja Snova. The title translates to Fairytale Forest. This book sadly only has half the number of images although they are equally, if not even more beautiful than Zemlja Snova. The book itself is 25cm square, paperback with flexible card covers, the cover shows a partially coloured image from inside the book and the inside covers are plain white. The spine is glue and string-bound and seems quite sturdy and durable and with a bit of work it’ll open up pretty flat, especially over time. The book has 68 pages (37 pages of images). The paper is cream, thick and lightly textured, it’s the same paper as this publisher always uses, it’s great for pencils though it can be a bit tricky with oil-based pencils like Faber-Castell Polychromos and Holbeins but Prismacolor Premiers work brilliantly. Water-based pens don’t shadow or bleed though do test in an inconspicuous area because we all colour differently and you don’t want to ruin a picture if there’s one on the reverse. The majority of the pages in this edition are printed single-sided; the double-page spreads are kept that way and therefore 12 of the pages (6 pairs) are printed double-sided but the rest are all printed single-sided meaning that you can use heavier mediums without worrying about bleed through, just pop a protective sheet behind your work to prevent any damage to the proceeding pages. Vilin San had a loose fold-out poster included but sadly, Sprookjesbos doesn’t include the poster or the imagery from it and so you’re only able to get that by purchasing Vilin San. The images themselves are very similar to those found in Zemlja Snova/Dromenvanger so if you liked that book then you’ll love this one too, all of the artwork is original and new to this book (its identical to Vilin San) though it feels familiar because of the content being similar. The illustrations contain fairies, dragons, mushrooms, butterflies, gnomes, birds, sea creatures, mice, palaces and more. The pages are all drawn as scenes and range from underwater scenes to dragons flying, fairies sleeping to hedgehogs being led through a mushroom-lined path, palace scenescapes to fantastical flying birds and so much more. Tomislav has created the drawings very considerately by leaving borders around many and those spanning a double-page having little content near the spine making it much easier to fully colour the page without any frustration of trying to access imagery in the book gutter. The illustrations are all very ornate and really beautiful to look at, this illustrator’s work really is some of the best in the world! As with Vilin San, there are no issues with images being incorrectly paired up, one of the double-page spreads is placed in a different place in the book compared to Vilin San but this has absolutely no impact on the enjoyment of the book.

In terms of mental health, this book is great for those with a good attention span. If you get overwhelmed by busy or intricate images then this won’t be for you but if you love immersive imagery that truly transports you to another place then look no further, this book is absolutely perfect. It offers so much to look at that it’s the perfect distraction for even the most persistent symptoms and it just draws you in to a magical fantastical world filled with mythical creatures, princes and princesses, castles, fairies and more. This book will be ideal for those of you who love fantasy colouring and also nature because so much of it is animal and scene-based so it’s combined two of our favourite things into one incredible book! The smaller number of pages means that it’s less daunting for those wanting to complete a whole book. The line thickness is consistent throughout and remains thin with some spindly thin details. The intricacy and detail levels remain very high throughout so you will certainly need very good vision and fine motor control to enjoy this book if you’re wanting to colour within each outlined section though it won’t need to be quite so good if you’re wanting to colour over some areas and leave the lines underneath as texture. I would highly recommend investing in a T’Gaal sharpener so that you can keep your pencils as sharp as possible! The illustrations are absolutely packed with detail and things to look at and notice, despite having Zemlja Snova for almost two years now, I’m still noticing new things and spot things I’ve never seen before when looking at other people’s finished pages and I’m absolutely certain this will be the case with Sprookjesbos too. The imagery is honestly spectacular, there aren’t many books I’m blown away by now but this one really is incredible, each image is a work of art, there are no filler pages, no random half-finished art, each page has clearly been painstakingly created and each will take hours, if not days to complete. The pages in this book aren’t quick to finish but there are lots of natural stopping points within each image so that you still get a sense of accomplishment without managing to finish a page in one sitting and these all range in size from a tiny bird or gnome all the way up to a forest of trees or giant dragon so you can pick a project of the right size for each colouring session! I adore this book, even just flicking through the pages gets me out of my head and calms my anxiety down and colouring it is just so much fun because you can use any colours you fancy from more natural colours to fantastical colours like blue for tree trunks and oranges or purples for leaves, in a fantasy world the only limit is your imagination and these images will look amazing no matter what colours you choose!

Overall, I can’t recommend this book highly enough, it’s a shame that it’s half the number of pages and even more of a shame that the poster imagery isn’t included this time and that the price doesn’t reflect this and is the same as Dromenvanger but those criticisms aside, the book and the artwork itself is truly perfect and gorgeous in every way. Tomislav’s artwork is some of the best I’ve ever seen and I really hope he’ll continue to make many more books because no matter how many times I flip through the same pages, I’m still as drawn in and transported as I was the first time I saw each illustration and that’s a really impressive feat!

If you’d like to purchase a copy then you can order it from the publisher’s site here or from any of the other Dutch sites below, not all of them ship everywhere so you might have to do a bit research. The easiest way to access these sites if you don’t read Dutch is to access them though Google Chrome and then hit the translate button on each page, it makes it really quick and easy to understand. It’s not currently available to purchase on Amazon UK but the listing can be found here and you can sign up for email alerts to be the first to know if it becomes available – Sprookjesbos

Video Review and Flip Through

Sprookjesbos vs Vilin San – A Comparison of the Dutch and Croatian Editions

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Vilin San was published in January 2018 and illustrated by Tomislav Tomic, it’s the second book he’s illustrated and one of the most beautiful colouring books I’ve ever seen. It was published in Croatia by Fokus and has been notoriously difficult to get hold of, it has almost exclusively been acquired through the publisher’s website which my Facebook fan group runs international group orders from. This is no longer necessary for this book because Sprookjesbos will be available worldwide at a really reasonable price and with much cheaper Worldwide shipping and hopefully it’ll eventually be available on Amazon UK (and possibly other places) like Dromenvanger (the Dutch edition of Zemlja Snova) is now. The artwork is the same in both books but there are a number of subtle publication differences between the two editions which I’ve listed and detailed below, there are three very large differences too which definitely affect enjoyment of the book. If you’d rather watch a video version then scroll all the way to the bottom where the video is embedded at the end of this post.

    1. Covers – Sprookjesbos also has a soft-feel cover with glossy accents on the title, artist name and publishing logo. Vilin San has a soft-feel cover with glossy accents on the title, subtext, and artist name. 
    2. Cover Image – The cover images are the same but Vilin San is printed smaller and has a little colour added to the top and bottom. Sprookjesbos has a larger, more zoomed in version of the image with a lot more colour added to it.
    3. Publishing Logo – The publishing logo is bottom centre on the cover of Sprookjesbos and at the top right on Vilin San.
    4. Cover Card – Both books are paperback and both have equally thick card covers.
    5. Back Cover – The back cover of Sprookjesbos consists of the same image as the front cover, again, partially coloured and with the blurb in a ribbon across the centre. The back cover of Vilin San is completely black and white and the blurb is bordered by a frame from the introduction page inside the book.
    6. Inside Covers – Sprookjesbos doesn’t have French Flaps, and the inside covers are blank white. Vilin San has French flaps with black and white artwork and these open out to reveal a bluey-purple and white line drawn illustration front and back.
    7. Spine – The illustrator name and book title are differently ordered on the spines of the different editions, the subtitle is added on Vilin San. They both use completely different fonts. The Publisher logos at the bottom of the spine differ too.
    8. Book Size – Vilin San is slightly wider than Sprookjesbos because of its cover but the pages themselves are exactly the same size.
    9. Thickness – Sprookjesbos is significantly thicker than Vilin San, this is partially due to having thicker paper (more on this later) but also due to much of it being printed single-sided rather than double-sided. Sprookjesbos contains 68 pages whereas Vilin San contains 40 (plus poster).
    10. Binding – Both editions are glue and string-bound.
    11. Language – Vilin san is written in Croatian and Sprookjesbos in Dutch. I don’t read either of these languages so I’m therefore unable to comment on whether the text in each book translates the same, or whether it differs in meaning.
    12. Title – Obviously the titles differ due to language but they also slightly differ in meaning. Sprookjesbos translates as Fairytale Forest and Vilin San translates as Fairy’s Dream.
    13. Publisher – Both editions have been published by different publishing companies (hence all of these subtle differences), Vilin San is published by Fokus Na Hit and Sprookjesbos is published by BBNC Uitgevers.
    14. Paper Colour – The paper in Vilin San is bright white, the paper in Sprookjesbos is cream.
    15. Paper Thickness – The paper in both is quite thick but it’s definitely thicker in Sprookjesbos. Water-based pens heavily shadow in Vilin San but don’t shadow at all in Sprookjesbos. The paper used in Sprookjesbos is, as far as I’m aware, the same paper that BBNC Uitgevers use in all of their colouring books, it’s a little temperamental with oil-based pencils (though others have had great results with these so it may well be my technique or lack of patience) and beautiful for pens and soft pencils like Prismacolor Premiers.
    16. Copyright Page – The information is much more spread out on the page in Vilin San and is contained to the bottom half of the page in Sprookjesbos. The page is at the front, as usual, in Vilin San, but it’s the last page at the back of the book in Sprookjesbos.
    17. Image Order – The images in Sprookjesbos are printed in exactly the same order as Vilin San apart from one double-page spread containing a flying bird which has been moved from very near the end to the centre of the book, all other pages are in the same order. This doesn’t remotely affect the enjoyment or cohesion of the book.
    18. Image Size – The images in both books are exactly the same size throughout.
    19. Image Orientation – The images are spaced slightly differently between the books with a little more or less of the image shown at some edges on some pages when compared to each other, see photos for clarification.
    20. Weight – Vilin San weighs less than Sprookjesbos, it weighs 317g compared to 463g.
    21. Availability – Vilin San is extremely difficult to get hold of outside Croatia and is one of the hardest colouring books on the market to obtain. We have run international group orders through the publisher’s site for the last 9 months but this isn’t easy and has all but dried up recently. Sprookjesbos is easier to get hold of with cheaper shipping from the sites below and hopefully it’ll become easier still if it makes its way to Amazon UK like Dromenvanger has. It’s likely to take weeks or even months to get there but hopefully, eventually, it’ll be easier to purchase.
    22. Poster – Vilin San contains a beautiful 4-page poster that opens out into a huge scene. Sprookjesbos doesn’t include this or the imagery so sadly, you can only get that with Vilin San.
      Vilin San (Fairy's Dream) by Tomislav Tomic click through to read my review, see photos, see my video flip through and enter a giveaway for a copy!Vilin San (Fairy's Dream) by Tomislav Tomic click through to read my review, see photos, see my video flip through and enter a giveaway for a copy!Vilin San (Fairy's Dream) by Tomislav Tomic click through to read my review, see photos, see my video flip through and enter a giveaway for a copy!
    23. Book Layout – Vilin San is entirely printed double-sided. Sprookjesbos is printed single-sided for the majority of the book.

As you’ll have seen, there are a lot of subtle differences between the editions but hardly any of them affect use, in fact the only three that really do are the paper, the printing being single or double-sided and the lack of poster in Sprookjesbos. The single-sided printing really opens up your options for colouring because you can use so many different mediums that can’t be used when printing is double-sided. Although it’s a real shame that the poster artwork isn’t included in Sprookjesbos, and it’s a shame in some ways that the paper is cream, I know a lot of people love crisp, white paper, but this paper is thicker and ideal for water-based pens and pencils and with the (hopefully) increased accessibility, I will now forever be suggesting that people get a copy of Sprookjesbos. This new edition is beautiful and for those of you who already have Vilin San and are wondering about getting this new edition, or a second copy, I’d say definitely get a copy of Sprookjesbos, it’s beautifully produced, the illustrations look lovely on the new paper and it’s so much easier to get hold of and if you’re anything like me, you’ll want a copy of the new edition just because it’s a bit different, I truly am a colouring book hoarder!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of Sprookjesbos, it can be found at these sites:

Amazon UK – Sprookjesbos

Video Comparison Post