We just got this really quirky book called A Thousand Billion Things (and some sheep) by Loic Clement and Anne Montel. And Solène just loves it. There are literally thousands of tiny illustrations in this book and we have noticed that not one of them is a copy of another.
Originally published in French, this is the charming story of a little girl’s day and the enormous amount of choices she makes in all the different scenarios. And each page has a search game where you have to find a particular item. So, there’s also something for the kiddies to do on each page. There is even an answer page at the back for all of those people who are not talented at find hidden images!
You can find it here on Amazon.
The Zhongshuge Bookstore, Chengdu, China is nothing short of awesome.
Bookstore owner and book publisher Jin Hao in Shanghai has been passionate about bookstores for more than two decades since he quit his teaching job and opened his very first bookstore.
By 2010, his chain had grown to 21 stores but had major challenges with the fierce competition from online stores and digital publishing.
So he realized he had to reimagine and reinvent the concept of what a bookstore can be and how it can be innovative. And he enlisted Shanghai-based designer Li Xiang of XL-Muse to help him recreate the book buying experience and environment.
As a result, Jin Hao opened his first three Zhongshuge bookstores in Shanghai, each with its own style, them and character.
The next step was the 10,000 square-foot (930 Square metres) store in a busy shopping mall in Hangzhou which featured vast spaces, mirrored ceilings, whimsical shelving, nature-inspired quirkiness.
And the results are amazing.
In this store, both the lecture hall and the children’s area have mirrored ceilings which make the spaces look much larger and also create a slightly mad upside-down experience.
The kids are treated to whimsical, massive mushrooms, shelving in the shape of pandas and bamboo forests they can imagine all sorts of adventures happening in. This jungle feel creates an expression of the magic of books and of their power to change our lives for the better.
We can only hope that the demise of incredible bookstores is going to be just a hiccup and that more inspired spaces like this start to pop up everywhere!
And just in case you are going to be in Chengdu, the Zhongshuge Bookstore is located at Jinhui E Street, Quhou Qu, Chengdu.
Here is our pick of the Coolest Summer Activity Books for Kids! We love summer and the freedom from a tight school schedule and we are pretty good about always having something fun and interesting to do. Yet there are times when activity books really come in handy. I’m sure there are other wonderful ones out, but it’s good to have a short and handy list at your fingertips when things get hairy.
I find activity books are great in the car and in those in-between times when the kiddos start to get restless. It’s true that the girls never complain of being bored, but it is nice to have them occupied when afternoon lag sets in after a busy summer morning.
So, here are the Coolest Summer Activity Books for Kids this season:
1. Wreck this Journal by Keri Smith. We. Love. This. Book!! For anyone who’s ever had trouble starting, keeping, or finishing a journal or sketchbook, Wreck This Journal, is a subversive illustrated book that challenges readers to make mistakes to create a mess! And the best part is the wrecking part. What kid does not love destroying things? I just love the irreverence and creativity of this book.Through a series of creative and quirky prompts, guerilla artist Keri Smith encourages journalers to engage in destructive acts—poking holes through pages, adding photos and defacing them, painting pages with coffee, coloring outside the lines, and more—in order to experience the true creative process. Wreck This Journal invites kids to wreck with color: mixing colors to make mud, letting chance dictate your color choice, weaving with brightly colored strips of paper, and more.
Here’s what peeps have to say about it:
“A conceptual artist and author luring kids into questioning the world and appreciating every smell, texture and mystery in it.” —Time Magazine
“Keri Smith may well be the self-help guru this DIY generation deserves.” —The Believer Buy Here.
2. Fill-Me-In by author/illustrator Moose Allain has very hip doodle illustrations. Just a wonderful and interesting coloring book, and drawing pad. There is lots of space on the page and in the mind of the kids to do their own thing. Buy here.
3. Amazed by Laurence King Publishing.This wonderfully illustrated and cleverly designed book leads the kids to help a lost boy to navigate cactus fields, caverns and treetops, all in the form of ingenious mazes, on his odyssey to return to his friends. This book is a pleasant challenge, so will keep the older kids going for a while. Not for very young kiddos! Buy here.
4. Big Magic for Little Hands by Joshua Jay. Kids love magic. And they are intrigued at how to do it. Joshua Jay, started doing magic when he was 7 and was named champion at the World Magic Seminar (the Olympics of magic) by the time he was 16. His Big Magic for Little Hands has 25 astonishing illusions for kids ages 7 and up. Kids love this! Buy here.
5. Go Photo by Alice Provjansky has 25 activities for kids who are young photographers. For some of these activities, you don’t even need an actual camera. Aimed at children between eight and twelve years old, this playful and fun collection of projects encourages young readers to use their imagination, get messy with materials and experiment in new and exciting ways. This is a very versatile activity book as the kids can do solo activities or group and they can be done anywhere. Some don’t even require a camera! Each project also features a series of pictures and handy tips to help guide the reader step-by-step, building a visual language and encouraging creativity as they go. A great book that goes far beyond the filling-in-time kind of activity book. We are huge fans! Buy here.
If you have any fave summer activity books for kids of your own, please share them on the Bellissima kids Facebook Page! Or comment below.
We just received our latest pop-up booked called Arctic Christmas – A Very Cool Pop-up Book and Solène is loving it. It’s a very simple pop-up book full of sweetness, and obviously a perfect gift for Christmas for younger kids and you still have time to have it arrive on time for the big day. We are big fans of the other pop-up books which were paper-engineered by the talented Yevgeniya Yeretskaya. In fact, the girls’ absolute fave book ever is The Snow Queen, (which I blogged about right here).
You can purchase Arctic Christmas right here !
I’m kind of love with Kyoto Nemoto illustrations. They are so bright and simple. Kyoto is an illustrator from Tokyo who mainly draws for books, magazines, postcards and design her own original products. She also works on commissioned projects all over the world!
Here’s her site.
What can I say? The girls were in a frenzy at the prospect of meeting the Fancy Nancy author, Jane O’Connor at our local library on Tuesday! Of all of the books we have ever owned, their Fancy Nancy books are read and re-read over and over. And they of course play at being Fancy Nancy and dressing up… well, fancy! There is something about this character that has captured the imaginations of so many girls and apparently, boys.
Because the library was packed full of kids, girls and boys who were just so excited. I felt like I was attending a rock concert. Oona was chosen to be the helper who held Jane’s book as she was reading. She was beaming at the honor. When Jane started talking about how Fancy Nancy likes using fancy French words, Oona announced the she speaks French and launched into it to the surprise of the author!
Here she is proudly showing us how fancy she herself was when she was a little girl!
Here’s Oona doing her very important job.
Here is the book she was reading from: Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet
Finally a wonderful book that makes the 50 States an engaging, fun and interesting journey. It’s so hard to pack state history, facts and trivia into a book for kids that they will want to pore over, but this one succeeds in a big way.
Here is our latest book pick: The Adventures of Beekle, The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat. And yes, he won the 2015 Caldecott Medal with this creation! (BTW, here is the complete list of Caldecott winners from 1938 to the present).This mystical story starts on an island in a far away land where an imaginary friend is born. He patiently waits his turn to be chosen by a real child, but after being overlooked time after time, he sets off on an incredible Odyssey to a busy city, where he eventually meets his perfect match and at long last, is christened, Beekle.
Dan Santat melds classic storytelling with breathtaking art, to create a profound tale of friendship, and the courage to search for one’s place in the world. That part is what I think is so important for children in this quickly changing world.
Dan Santat is also the author/illustrator of Sidekicks and the winner of the Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators for Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) by Mac Barnett. And this is the fellow who is responsible for creating the Disney animated series, The Replacements. Dan lives in Southern California with his wife, two kids, and a variety of pets.
If your appetite is whetted, you can purchase it right here, right now!