March 9, 2016 by I SNIFF BOOKS - Beth
It was love at first sight when I first saw the cover for Romantic Country: A Fantasy Coloring Book online (way back in December 2015!) and read the book’s brief description. Now that the book is in my hands, I love it even more! I’m still squeeing but I need to catch my breath, focus, and write up a proper and intelligible review for you to read.
Romantic Country: A Fantasy Coloring Book is a unique one-of-a-kind coloring experience. I have seen no other book like this — both in art technique (more on that below) and concept. Not only can you escape to another time and place while you color, but EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS COLORING BOOK is absolutely BRILLIANT.
I’ll start at the beginning. Romantic Country: A Fantasy Coloring Book is filled with coloring pages from Cocot — The Land of Beautiful Towering Castles. “What is this place called Cocot?” you ask. Well, when Eriy was a child she used to fantasize about an imaginary land — it was filled with cute animals, plants, a castle with a princess, a forest with a witch — but above all, it was a pleasant place to live. Romantic Country is filled with tangible imagery for you to color from Eriy’s fantasyland, Cocot.
But in addition to imagery, there are WORDS too! There is a WHOLE PAGE filled with WORDS to tell you all about Cocot. It sound absolutely divine:
“Somewhere in the world there is a small country that doesn’t even exist on maps. It is surrounded by the richness of nature — beautiful forests and expansive lakes. There are also old townscapes and farm villages where time seems to stand still. This land will surely leave you with a memorable impression of its various unique buildings and majestic castles. Cocot is the name of this magical land.”
And then Eriy goes on in this charming manner for EIGHT more paragraphs! She tells how Cocot got its name, talks about the weather, the people, and more. But wait, there are MORE WORDS! The book concludes with FIVE PAGES of what I am simply calling a tourist guide. This guide includes small thumbnail images of the coloring pages along with a sentence or two about each. For example, just so you know, you should call ahead before visiting the Seafood Restaurant because if the owner hasn’t caught any fish that day the restaurant will be closed! GAH! This book is PAINFULLY charming!
AND if all of that wasn’t enough to transport you to Cocot, folks, Eriy includes a MAP! Actually I should say MAPS because there are THREE! Maps make everything real!
Now for some technical details: Romantic Country is sized nearly 10 x 10 inches with a removable dust jacket — underneath the covers are brown and these can be colored. Romantic Country seems to be both glue- and string-bound — the spine is quite flexible and the book does lay considerably flat when open. The paper in the coloring book is a nice soft white color, perhaps with a hint of cream. The paper feels quite nice to the touch and has a good weight to it. I can sometimes see inky drawing lines through the coloring page — this is not a criticism, just an observation.
And speaking of inky lines, Eriy composed all the drawings for Romantic Country using a toothpick dipped in ink! Actually she used a total of 700 toothpicks! Eriy began drawing with toothpicks when she was eight years old — when she bought her first bottle of ink she forgot to buy a pen to go with so she used a toothpick instead.
The coloring pages are arranged into five chapters: (1) Hill and Town Overlooking a Clock Tower, (2) Stories of Castles, (3) A Villagescape with Beautiful Forests and Lakes, (4) A Town Where Genial People Live, and (5) Windmills Are a Symbol of This Village.
There are 96 pages with images on both sides of the page — the majority are single-page designs, only 14 of the coloring designs span two pages. The pages are full of storefronts, interiors of homes, country landscapes, food, people, animals, objects to color, and so much more — there are no abstract or “wallpaper” coloring pages. While each page is full of “things” to color, nothing is overly intricate or tiny — colored pencils, even with a dull point, will work wonderfully. The line thickness (medium) is consistent throughout although sometimes the lines vary in tone (probably due to the toothpick and ink drawing technique) — but the lines are ALWAYS easy to see.
All in all, my expectations were exceeded for Romantic Country: A Fantasy Coloring Book. I hope if that if you pick up a copy for yourself that you love it as much as I do. I can’t wait to pull out my Crayola colored pencils and begin coloring in this brilliant and beautiful coloring book.
If the video does not embed properly, you can view it here via vimeo.
Eriy has also published two more (!!!) Romantic Country coloring books — you can see them here on Amazon Japan. Fingers crossed St. Martin’s Press publishes both of them in the near future! I would LOVE to visit Cocot again and again!
Edited to add on April 25, 2016: St. Martin’s Press is publishing Romantic Country: The Second Tale: A Fantasy Coloring Book !!! It goes on-sale December 20, 2016. You can pre-order on Amazon USA and Amazon UK. At the time of this update, the book is not listed on Barnes & Noble.
Connect with the Romantic Country Coloring Book Group on facebook — Susan is the admin of this group AND she got permission from artist Eriy to start it!
**I have also reviewed the English-language edition of Romantic Country: The Second Tale and that review can be seen right here.**
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