Today I’d like to talk to you about something that’s near and dear to my heart: books and art. Now, some would say all books are art, and that’s true, but this particular book is artier than a regular book, because you get to color in it. Wonderland by Amily Shen is a darling adult coloring book that I get the privilege of reviewing for you today. There are a lot of coloring books out there that aren’t aimed at the Kindergarten crowd, so hopefully this will help you decide if this is a book you’d like to pick up.
Now, I have a particularly hard time writing in “regular” books, because I’ve always treated them like treasures, and you don’t scribble in, highlight, or notate your treasures. Even with college, I prefer using a billion sticky notes over highlighting in my textbooks. When I highlight my Bible (I’ve done is a few times, I confess), it grates my nerves, and I have to force myself to uncap my highlighter, put it to the page, and drag it across. It hurts my heart to write in books.
So, coloring books like this, that are meant to be covered in ink, pencil, and marker, well, they are incredibly special to me. Amily Shen basically created something beautiful and then sold it like a whispered secret, “Here, it’s OK. It’ll be even prettier when you’re done.” This particular book is Alice in Wonderland themed, but it’s not the Alice you’ve seen in the Disney movie. It’s also not the Alice that lives in Tim Burton’s creepy world. This Alice is sweet, puffy-dressed, and plain-faced. Wonderland gives the reader a new adventure of Alice’s, and it’s different than what you’ve read before, but it’s also the same.
I said reader because there is actual reading in this book. There are a lot of pictures, but there are also pages dedicated to text. Because of this, you may not want to tear out your favorite colored page and frame it on your wall (am I the only one who wants to do this desperately when I’ve finished something intricate?), or pull a page out to give it to your child to color. All the text-based pages also have a small illustration in the corner for coloring.
Many of Alice’s traditional companions and enemies show up in the story. There’s a page for the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts, the flamingo that was used for croquet, the card guards, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, the dodo, and the dormouse. There’s only one page for each in most instances, so you have one shot to make an amazing picture of that character.
I’m sorry the lighting is kind of yellow-ish, but here’s the Queen of Hearts. I wanted to have her done for this picture, but I still can’t decide what to do with that intricate frill around her neck and waist.
There are a lot of pages that are what I’d call mildly interesting: a two-page spread of the café you “fall asleep” in before the adventure starts, another two page spread of the exterior of the café with a glimpse of the white rabbit, a rose garden maze, a two page spread of pastries, also, some activities like drawing owls, doodling butterflies, sketching cakes, and a page of pictures you can search for throughout the book. Those pages just aren’t for me. I know there are people out there who want to doodle and do little activities, but I just want to color. These types of pages are in other coloring books I’ve seen also, they just don’t appeal to me, personally. Maybe you’ll love them.
My only real complaint is that the ink used on the pages rubs off onto the page behind it if you color too hard. I color really vibrant shades, and this often means pressing hard with a colored pencil. If I don’t flip the book open so the page I’m coloring is flat against the hard surface I’m coloring on, it will tattoo the next page that it’s touching. If you color hard, this is something you may want to consider.
These leaves are from the opposite page. This is where the ink rubbed off on the next page.
Here’s a gorgeous cupcake.
And the opposite page after coloring on the back of the cupcake.
The paper is nice and thick. I used my favorite Crayola glitter markers, covered a good chunk of the page, and there was no bleed-through. Overall, I like this book. The cover is gorgeous and thick, there are plenty of pictures to keep me busy, and the illustrations are unique and different, but still familiar.
Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion. I am not required to give a positive review, and any thoughts I’ve expressed are mine. Pictures are taken from Wonderland by Amily Shen and are copyrighted by her.