'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 11 April 2013

Review: Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book

"Tumble down the rabbit hole and find yourself in my inky wonderland . . ."

So says author/illustrator Johanna Basford on her stunning activity book, which really is much more than an activity book. It's a work of art.

This astonishingly detailed square-format book is an art-lover's delight (and what child is not an art aficionado?). A true wonderland of fine-line imagery, from full garden spreads through to mandala-style patterns and more detailed plant studies, invites children to not only colour this monochrome world, but to find a series of hidden items, scattered throughout the book.

The key at the start of Secret Garden tempts children to get busy with the hunting. Inside they can find 8 spiders, 1 treasure chest, 5 moths, 4 keys, 7 slugs and all manner of garden critters (plus one shark!), most notably 116 butterflies and 63 beetles.

As kids hunt, they may wish to start colouring or they may wish to just ogle the stunning design, pure in its own uncoloured beauty. I know when my own 12-year-old daughter asked if she could start colouring, my heart skipped a beat. To colour or not to colour?

Whatever you decide to do, this amazing book is a visual feast. Kids will also enjoy text prompts on some pages - 'fill the pond with fish, frogs and lilypads' - making this a book of pure inspiration. For the impatient or simply eye-boggled, answers on the whereabouts of the all the seek-and-finds are at the back of the book.

Stunning stunning.

Title: Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book
Author/Illustrator: Johanna Basford
Publisher: Laurence King Publishing, $19.95 RRP
Publication Date: 4 March 2013
Format: Soft cover
ISBN: 9781780671062
For ages: 3+
Type: Activity Book