Saturday, October 17, 2009
Alex Beard is a marvelous artist whose intricately detailed work can be found in drawings, paintings and puzzles. He recently published a children's book that draws on his memories of his childhood in the African savannah. His new book, The Jungle Grapevine, features some of his artwork and continues his mission to make art more accessible to children and to people everywhere. We were sent a copy of The Jungle Grapevine and a companion 3D elephant puzzle, and here's what we thought:
The Jungle Grapevine is a children's picture book set in the heart of Africa, where we find jungle animals engaged in an afternoon of speculation, rumor-spreading and generally freaking each other out.
Here's what the publishers have to say about the book: In The Jungle Grapevine (Abrams, Sept. 2009), acclaimed artist and debut author Alex Beard reinterprets his memories of the African savanna's most colorful inhabitants to create a modern retelling of the classic game of telephone.
Beard also created a companion set of board games, card games and puzzles featuring the most endearing characters of The Jungle Grapevine. It's all part of his mission to demystify art, making it available to people in all ages and stages of life.
We really enjoyed reading The Jungle Grapevine! The story is funny and entertaining and sparked a lot of discussion about misunderstanding and overreacting. And I can't say enough about the illustrations. There's just so much to look at, my kids spent ages just leafing through the pages. The book is really high-quality, with a beautiful typeface (I can't believe I'm actually raving about a font!) and nice thick paper, and it certainly wouldn't look out of place on the shelf next to our classics like Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland.
The accompanying Jungle Grapevine puzzles and games are just as beautiful. The 3D elephant puzzle we received was the perfect complement to the book. When it arrived in the mail, I gave it a cursory glance and dismissed it as one of those cheapy balsa-wood puzzles that you can buy at your local dollar store. But upon closer inspection, it's actually a high-quality toy that's challenging to put together and beautiful enough to display. Unlike the cheapy unpainted versions, the pieces in this puzzle have been painted so the finished product looks just like the elephant in the Jungle Grapevine book.
The illustrations in The Jungle Grapevine are so whimsical and charming, I think any parent would love to decorate their child's nursery or bedroom in a Jungle Bedroom theme. Unfortunately his Jungle Grapevine prints are way too expensive for the average Joe, and I'd love more affordable decor options besides the oversized Alphabet Flashcards. How about some Jungle Grapevine bedsheets or tshirts?
The Bottom Line
The Jungle Grapevine makes a beautiful, educational present for any child. If you're feeling generous, throw in one of the companion games or puzzles for even more jungle fun. The whole series will give children a renewed appreciation of art!
I received a sample in order to review this product, but no monetary compensation. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.