photographer | slp | language & literacy | love good design, engaging books, reggio emilia, documenting | @averyandaugustine on instagram

founder of littlelitbookseries.com | @littlelitbookseries on instagram

m@michelle-sterling.com

 

 

Thursday
Dec072017

design-centric gift guide

I’m excited to share a design-centric gift guide for you appreciators of art, type, pattern and all things beautiful and thoughtfully designed.  Also, because I love the books and playthings I’m sharing, I’m partnering with some publishers and small businesses to give away some of the items in the guide.  Head over to this Instagram post for details and to enter.  The giveaway ends on Sunday, December 10, at 11:59 PST, and is open to US residents.

I’ve culled a list of design-driven books and toys—books that highlight particular artists or groups of artists, and the beauty they sought to instill into their work and share with the world, as well as other books that inspire wonder and an appreciation of design, form, function and aesthetic.  The toys I’ve chosen reflect simple, beautiful and thoughtful design, many with sound, sturdy construction that allow them to be passed on to the next generation.  Most of the toys in this list are traditional, open-ended toys because I find from experience that those are the ones that lend themselves to creativity in its truest sense.  They become tools for children use to convey their thoughts, ideas and express the experiences they’ve had in their world.

 I grouped everything together in one list and some items will work better for certain age groups, but I believe that good design resonates with all and many of these books and toys can be shared and experienced by the whole family.  What’s brilliant about well-designed objects and books is that you don’t have to shelve them or store them out of sight.  You can leave them out in your living room and they naturally add beauty to the space.  The book left out on your coffee table doesn’t have to be read all in one sitting — it can be looked at a few pages at a time in moments of passing by, or in small morsels with your morning coffee.  We love to leave out block sculptures that we’re working on and see them evolve the next day with other family members adding their ideas to the mix. 

Without further ado…

 

Eames: Beautiful Details — There is perhaps no one more representative of the mid-century modern movement than the husband and wife team of Charles and Ray Eames, whose timeless simplicity, modernity, style, minimalism and functionality continue to resonate with this generation.  This stunning and sizable tome documents their prolific career in furniture design, architecture, industrial design, film, toys, education and innovative experiments.  A celebration of their lives, and the joy, spirit, beauty and innovation they brought to their work.  By Eames Demetrios and edited by Gloria Fowler and Steve Crist.  Published by Ammo Books.

 

Ed Emberley — “I didn’t consider myself an illustrator.  I considered myself a book maker.”  For parents who grew up with his work and with him as their first art teacher—to share with your own children and introduce them to his incredibly thoughtful line and composition, and the joy found in his work and in his calling to create art for children.  By Todd Oldham and Caleb Neelon, and published by Ammo Books.

 

Mid-Century Modern Women in the Visual Arts — An homage to female artists whose forward-thinking and innovative design, art and creative processes have inspired—and continue to influence—so many artists today.  Twenty-five women in the various disciplines of painting, sculpture, architecture, furniture design, textile design, graphic design, illustration and fashion are featured, including Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Mary Blair, Georgia O’Keefe, Eva Geisel, Ruth Asawa and Yayoi Kusama.  Much of the narrative of their professional lives included “wit, wisdom and willfulness” and remaining steadfast to their vision as artists and individuals.  A vibrant addition to your collection of books for Women’s History Month.  By Gloria Fowler, illustrated by Ellen Surrey and published by Ammo Books.

 

A Box of Awesome Things Matching Game — Twenty pairs of favorite things like fireflies and confetti rendered with bright, modern and stylized illustrations make this memory game enjoyable.  And awesome.  Includes a blank pair of cards for kids to “draw their own awesome addition.”  By award-winning creative studio Wee Society who believes “that you’re never too young to develop an eye for design.”

 

Me: A Compendium — A journal for kids to record their current traits, interests and big and small ideas.  The bold, minimal and design-centric pages ask kids to draw and write notable things about themselves like what they’d name their band, their top three ice cream flavors, or what they would program a robot to do.  The list goes on, and it’s fresh, imaginative and hilarious.  The results will be an endearing record of your child in a moment in time, and needless to say, you’ll probably be surprised by what they write!  Because of course, you never know what kids will say!  Also from the clever folk at Wee Society.

 

Blockitecture Habitat — A fresh take on the modern building block.  To give children a set of blocks is to gift them with endless opportunities to build, create, innovate and problem-solve in open-ended play.  Countless benefits aside, these blocks have a beautiful modern palette and are thoughtfully designed and inspired by Habitat 67, a housing complex and pavilion in the 1967 World’s Fair in Montreal.  By James Paulius for Areaware.

 

Stampville — A set of twenty-five stamps of various shapes and textures, along with blue and yellow ink pads, for creating houses, buildings and towns.  They provide ways to explore part-whole relationships, design and construction given a set of parameters.  A good exercise in planning, visualizing ideas and bringing them to fruition.  Sure to inspire different ways of thinking about shapes, repetition, composition and patterns.  By French illustrator and designer Aurélien Débat.  40% off with the code MONDAY until December 11 at  Princeton Architectural Press.

 

Vehicles Hide and Sneak — The latest look-and-find from Parisian artist Bastien Contraire.  It’s got a curious color palette with modern sensibilities.  Kids examine groups of items, searching for the “odd one out” and in so doing, work on visual discrimination, categorization, early inferential and reasoning skills.  The book’s puzzles contain clever subtleties — groupings of items of very similar shapes and silhouettes and tongue-in-cheek visual humor.  Contraire also plays with high-contrast forms and missing bits and pieces.  A minimalist and stylish board book that engages the visual senses and providing some nice language points to discuss as well.  For ages 3-5.  Published by Phaidon.

 

Night and Day — An innovative feat of paper engineering that brings to life several early concepts for little ones.  They can see and experience basic concepts such as left, right, night, day, high, low, alone, together, and more.  By Paris-based visual artist, bookmaker and author Julie Safirstein.  For ages 3-5.  40% off with the code MONDAY until December 11 at Princeton Architectural Press.

 

Living with Pattern — A guide to mixing and layering pattern, in bold and subtle ways, and in unexpected places that you might not have considered.  Rebecca Atwood provides inspiration, ideas for projects and helps your realize how pattern brings life to a space, sets the tone of a room and helps make it a unique expression of your tastes and who you are.  Published by Clarkson Potter.

 

 

 


Hyperactivitypography from A to Z — An illustrated and insightful reference and must-have for fans of type and typography, with explanations of terms, games, exercises and puzzles.  A book not just for kids.  By Norwegian design agency Studio 3 and pairs well with A History of Graphic Design for Rainy Days and published by Gestalten.  For ages 10 and up.

 

A History of Graphic Design for Rainy Days — “What you always wanted to know about graphic design but were afraid to ask.”  We follow the narrative of a child’s inquiry to his grandfather one rainy day, “What in the world is graphic design?”  This clever, lighthearted reference about graphic design guides readers through its history, milestones, facets, personalities and technologies.  Infused with humor and of course, sharp design.  By Norwegian design agency Studio 3 and published by Gestalten.  Pairs well with Hyperactivitypography from A to Z.  For ages 9 and up.

Print & Pattern Kids, Print & Pattern Geometric and Print & Pattern Nature — This trio of books showcases some of the best influential designers in the field, with surface designs, patterns and motifs from all over the world.  Trends and products are also discussed, with scores of visually interesting patterns to pore over.  Fantastic references for the pattern-obsessed, as well as textile designers, makers, craftsmen, graphic designers and illustrators.  Also in the series is Print & Pattern and Print & Pattern 2.  By Marie Perkins (aka Bowie Style) and published by Laurence King.

 

Saul Bass: 20 Iconic Film Posters — You might recognize his name as illustrator on the iconic book Henri’s Walk to Paris.  Widely considered one of the best American designers of the 20th century, Saul Bass is most well known for his work in film and graphic design.  Included in this book are posters he designed for such films as Vertigo, Spartacus and The Magnificent Seven.  Published by Laurence King.

 

Eames House of Cards — “Toys are not really as innocent as they look.  Toys and games are preludes to serious ideas.” — Charles and Ray Eames.  A classic Eames toy originally designed in 1952.  The cards bear patterns or photographs of everyday things, from common household objects to living things from the animal, mineral and vegetable kingdoms, reflecting the pair’s “appreciation for the uncommon beauty of common things.”  Slots on all sides of the cards allow them to be joined together in interesting structures with endless configurations.

 

Eames Coloring Toy — We were really excited to see this classic rereleased for a whole new generation after almost 60 years since it was originally created.  It’s an amazing, innovative set with so much to it — sheets of card stock with 40 different pre-cut shapes for children to color, punch out and put together in myriad ways, from animals and people to more fantastic imaginings.  A set of crayons and brads are also included, along with an abundance of ideas and extensions of those ideas.  A “thinking outside of the box” toy, for sure.  For ages 5 and up.

 

BlockHaus — Not your ordinary building blocks—in fact, these are quite extraordinary and visually striking in their palette of primary colors, black, white and natural wood, as well as patterns.  They are handcrafted, inspired by The Bauhaus, and become imaginative structures in the hands of children—houses, abodes, a chateau, a small village, a towering skyscraper.  As if that weren’t enough, they also cleverly contain a tangram.  For ages 3 and up.  Designed by MillerGoodman and available at The Wooden Wagon.

And that’s a wrap!  Hope you found something beautiful and inspiring to gift to your friends and family this year.  If you have any questions or need another idea for a specific gift, feel free to email me at hello @ michelle-sterling.com. 

Monday
Nov202017

cilla lee-jenkins: this book is a classic

 

Cilla Lee-Jenkins was one of Avery’s favorite books this year. She's an independent reader, but I read it aloud to her because I didn’t want to miss out on it either, and it was a memorable shared experience. I loved it.

Research shows that children benefit so much from discussing books that they’re reading, and that even older children who are independent readers still benefit from being read aloud to by a parent. As a parent, you’re able to explain unfamiliar words, connect the new experiences in the book with kids’ prior real-life experiences and help them understand the themes of the story and the author’s intent. All this supports kids in better comprehending what they’re reading, connecting with the text more and most of all, enjoying it (which contributes to them becoming a lifelong reader and learner).

Cilla is absolutely enjoyable as a read-aloud. She’s a "future author extraordinaire" with a penchant for the sensational and telling stories with "creative license." In other words, she's hilarious, charming and has some serious spunk. We get to hear about Cilla’s mixed-race background—her unique experiences with each and the insights she gains from a diverse background. She tells us how she overcomes her struggles with reading, bumps in the road with friendships and realizations she makes about herself as she gets older. But here's the big news—Cilla feels overshadowed by the new baby aka "The Blob" making inroads into the family and she does not want to be an older sister at all. Her solution? To write a book about herself before the baby is born—and become a best-selling author—so that no one will have a chance to forget about her.

In her sequel Cilla Lee-Jenkins: This Book Is a Classic, we continue to hear her lively voice as a young writer. She’s learning and writing about themes in her life and shares her family’s different traditions in detail, some of which involve moon cake and chocolate cake (because dessert is a BIG them in her family)!

In the first chapter, Cilla starts off Chinese New Year morning by donning all the red clothing she possibly can and leaving orange all over the house to bring luck for the new year! Auntie Eva comes to visit, and the whole family heads to Chinatown to celebrate Chinese New Year. The morning is filled with lively conversation, firecrackers, drums and catching up with her beloved aunt, who has some big news to share with the family.

 

Thursday
Nov162017

the tea party in the woods

While on a walk through the quiet wintry woods trying to catch up with her father, one curiosity leads Kikko to another, and quite an afternoon of new discoveries and unique experiences ensues.  Akiko Miyakoshi’s soft and beautiful charcoals are swathed in textured magic and a dreamy nostalgia.  Quite possibly the coziest story for this season, and a reminder that friendship and hospitality take many forms, and that creativity plays an inherent role in solving problems.

The Tea Party in the Woods was written and illustrated by Akiko Miyakoshi and published by Kids Can Press.

Tuesday
Nov142017

gum

Armed with nine quarters, Danny and James are hoping to coax out the prized silver race car from the gumball machine in Mr. Wright’s store.  Oh, the suspense, as each quarter yields gumballs galore but not quite what their little hearts are pining for.  Wanting something so badly and riding that roller coaster of high hopes followed by acrid disappointment when we don’t get what we’re hoping for, then daring to get back on our feet and give it just one more try is a childhood experience that we remember all too well.  Jeff Newman’s illustrations have a great vintage vibe with an exuberant line that deftly captures kid energy and nostalgia.

Gum was written by Nancy Willard, illustrated by Jeff Newman and published by Candlewick Press.

Sunday
Nov122017

moon

Britta Teckentrup’s books are quietly beautiful and thoughtful works of art.  She  crafts worlds full of wonder and beauty that deliver a much-needed dose of magic before bedtime and leave a long-lasting impression well into dream world.  Her latest book that brings children closer to nature is Moon: Night-Time Around the World, a collaboration with author Patricia Hegarty.  Its pages with clever cut-outs show the waxing and waning moon in its different phases, shining over different animals all over the world—puffins shivering in the snowy Northern light skies, birds flying south to warmer climate, giraffes resting in cool grasslands.  Patricia’s rhyming words, with their charming cadence, flow in and out of Britta’s otherworldly nocturnal scenes with a lovely ease and serenity.

Moon, was written by Patricia Hegarty, illustrated by Britta Teckentrup and published by Little Tiger Kids.