Two Illustrated Books: “The River” and “Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone”

It’s been a while since I’ve read an illustrated book, I realized on a recent visit to the library. I decided to rectify that by picking up two books that were on display, one about a river and another, a familiar story, about the boy who lived. Both were good reads and quite an experience, though one wasn’t as I expected it to be. However in both, I found that I paid more attention to the artwork rather than the story.


The River by Alessandro Sanna (illus.), trans. by Michael Reynolds

Quick summary:

The River is an illustrated book by Italian painter and illustrator Alessandro Sanna about a town situated by a river. The story is told almost entirely without words, and the book is separated into four parts, one for each season, that all begin with a short paragraph about how the season affects the river or the town and what is included in that section (I realized this last part after completing the book).

My thoughts and the Art style:

The River is a sweet story. To tell the story of the town and the river, Sanna has us focus on a character, a man, to see how the seasons and the river affect his life.

The story is easy to follow since Sanna uses long panels throughout the book to make the progress of the story clear and the changes in a scene due to the weather easy to comprehend.

However, I think rather than the story, the book’s emphasis is on the artwork, which was done using watercolor, and Sanna’s skill as an artist. The illustrations are spectacular and became even more amazing to me when I read the Afterword, in which Sanna said that he tried to paint these captured moments without first drafting them with a pencil or knowing if he’ll find the right tone or color when creating them.

Though the style isn’t one I usually favor, I do love Sanna’s work here. The illustrations focus on lights and shadows. Though images have a definite shape, not much detail is given to them, so people, animals, and other objects are drawn as silhouettes. The exceptions are the figures in the last part, which have some defining details.

My favorite thing about Sanna’s work, and the first thing to catch my attention, are the colors and mixture of colors, which not only communicate what sort of season or weather Sanna is trying to depict, but also the mood, the emotions, he wants us to associate with them.

I love the entire book because of the masterful use of colors throughout, but my favorite parts were Autumn and Winter, which were illustrated using darker colors to fit the usual tones of those seasons. Autumn was filled with browns, deep, dark purples, and a bit of cream, while Winter was a bit lighter, because of snow, and was a mixture of browns, purples, cream, and white with a shock of pink and hint of blue.

The Spring and Summer sections mirrored the seasons they’re named for by containing brighter, more festive colors. The story also became lighter here as well, a turn from its serious tone in the darker, colder, more turbulent seasons.

Spring and Summer weren’t favorites the first time I read the book (I reread it almost immediately upon completing it) and I think that’s because of the dark, sullen mood I was in while I read, which made me connect more with the Autumn and Winter colors. However, the next day when I picked up the book, I appreciated the Spring and Summer sections more as my mood lightened.

The colors used for Spring are like the soft, new blossoms we see on trees whenever that season rolls around: light pinks, baby blues, and white. Everything is fuzzy and new. Sanna begins with these colors and steadily increases their vibrancy until we get to Summer and the colors begin to pulse with their intensity. The story’s plot rockets in these sections, drawing more interest from the reader as the colors beguile their eyes. I could hardly look away from the book on my second read, so entranced was I by the colors and my new appreciation of the story.

I picked up this book by random at the library because it was on display and didn’t expect to like it so much, or to write such a long review of it, lol!

Overall: ★★★★☆

Beautifully illustrated and evocative. I highly recommend this one for its watercolor paintings.

I gave it 4 stars because the story didn’t interest me much. The artwork overpowered it.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, illus. by Jim Kay

My thoughts and the Art style:

I was eager to read the illustrated copies of the Harry Potter books when they were first published. I’d assumed they would be akin to graphic novels and so expected the story to be told in illustrated form. I was disappointed with what I saw.

These illustrated copies were instead the story printed in heavy hardbacks packed with thick pages that were sometimes accompanied by illustrations. The books are beautiful and the artwork is whimsical at times, but because it was not what I’d expected, I refused to get it.

However, every now and then someone would feature the books in a post and slowly I began to weaken toward purchasing a copy. I almost bought it, but luckily my library had an illustrated copy of the first book in stock. When I got it, I decided to read it aloud to myself.

That was a horrible mistake.

I read painfully slowly when reading aloud and often I became impatient with myself. But I stuck with it and took almost a month to complete the book! Aside from my slow reading, I also paused to pore over illustrations, which I appreciated for their details and color, but often wished there were more.

I believe this is my first sample of Jim Kay’s work and I think they complement the Harry Potter story well. However, as I read I found myself preferring his illustrations of buildings and other architectural objects rather than of people. I think the only figures he drew that I like is Hagrid and what looks like a pencil portrait of Harry.

Otherwise, my favorites of the illustrations are his illustrations of Hogwarts in the end pages, the spreads of Diagon Ally, and all the illustrations of plants, especially Hagrid’s house. I also like the vibrancy of the colors and even the wispy line work, when it can be seen.

Overall: ★★★☆☆ 1/2

As with Sanna’s The River, I mostly paid attention to the art rather than the story, in this case because I already know the story by heart. As such, I rate this edition of Harry Potter for the art rather than the story. I gave it 3.5 stars because though I liked the presentation, I wasn’t impressed by it.

In the video below, Jim Kay talks about using different styles for the books, so I look forward to trying the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets illustrated edition.

Book Haul #35: Am I going monthly now?

I have another large book haul!! 😀

There are two reasons for this:

  1. It seems that I’m doing these monthly now…maybe. I keep forgetting to post book hauls, which is weird because it’s one of my favorite type of post.
  2. And because I ran out of shelf space, I’ve started to purchase e-books. I’m also subscribed to newsletters that send me e-book deals everyday and because the prices for those deals are so low, I automatically hit the “buy” button whenever I see them.

Warm weather also has a lot to do with large purchase too, I think. I’m happier in spring/summer and I think I buy more books then.

Anyway, enough excuses! Here’s what I bought.

Physical books

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Top Ten Tuesday #26: Series Starters I Haven’t Started

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic:

10 series I want to start but haven’t

There are many series I want to start and I’ve seen several mentioned in blog posts I read this morning. I tried leaving comments on some, but I think WordPress is blocking me from commenting on posts because none of my comments show up after I submit them. It’s highly frustrating because I’ve already forgotten what I said on those posts. Has anyone else encountered this problem? If so, how did you fix it?

Anyway, here are 10 series that quickly came to mind:

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Wishes for My TBR Pile #21: It’s Been a Long Time Coming

Wishes for My TBR Pile is a monthly post where I list and sometimes discuss the books I’ve discovered and would like to get and read.

I refer to these lists whenever I visit a bookstore and can’t decide on what to get. However, recently my go-to list for books to get has been my Tough Travels posts. I’ve discovered several new-to-me books since partaking of that meme and reading about fantasy books on the blogs I visit.

However, since my last Wishes for My TBR post, I was moved to get Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, which, of course, I haven’t yet read but plan to. Here are a some more books I’d like to get and read:

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Weekend Reads #73: How I Organize My Blog

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend.

I’m behind on everything in life at the moment. My tag-filled week (last week) did not go as planned because I’m in the midst of changing jobs and for some reason, my crazy butt thinks I must catch up on everything at my old job before leaving for the new one. Smh. No one does that!

I’m trying to chill and take it easy, but I think I went overboard on that goal this weekend and did almost nothing. I was so chill that I almost forgot about Father’s Day. Btw, shout out to all the dads. I got my dad a pint of ice cream because I know that’s his weakness.

Anyway, I have a whole week off before starting the new gig so I’ll try to catch up on posts, beginning with this late Weekend Reads post.

For this weekend, I once again checked the Book Blogger Hop for a topic. The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly book discussion meme created by Jennifer at Crazy-For-Books in March 2010 and now managed by Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.

This week’s question was submitted by Elizabeth at Silver’s Reviews:

How do you organize your blog in terms of what is in your side bar? Do you have categories and defined sections in your side bar?

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Fandom Book Tag, Pt. 1

Soo… I wanted to focus on tags I was tagged for but when I looked at my long list of book tags, I realized that I failed to mark which ones I was tagged for. Oh well. I’ll just do them all at random.

I found the Fandom Book Tag over on My Tiny Obsessions and stowed it away to do one day (today!). I think I was more attracted to how Cristina formatted the post than interested in the tag itself, but it looks like fun so here I am and here it is.

The tag was created by Pia at Fangirl Fashionista. There are a lot of questions because of the many fandoms out there, so I decided to separate them into two posts.

Doctor Who: A book with a (mostly) blue cover.

Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen

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Seven Deadly Sins Book Tag

It’s book tag week!! 😀

Since I didn’t post anything yesterday, I’m doubling up today. (Good idea, me! **Pats self on back**)

My plan was to focus on tags I was tagged for but then I remember seeing this book tag over on Books and Drinks and immediately wanted to do it, mostly because I want to show off the cute illustrations of cats (not part of the tag but it was included in the post on Books and Drinks).

My eyes immediately zoomed to the illustrations when I saw the post. I googled them and learned from this Bored Panda post that they were created by game designer and illustrator Marija Tiurina, who teamed up with NeonMob, a platform for digital artists and collectors, to portray the seven deadly sins with cats.

After looking at the Bored Panda post, I went off on a tangent by visiting Tiurina’s website to look at more of her illustrations. I really like her style. It’s cartoony, but they are all sweet, cute, and fun, even the ones that have a sinister tone.

Anyway, I’m not here to discuss Tiurina’s art (though I’m tempted to do a post on her and her illustrations), so onward with the tag!

GREED: What is the most expensive book that you own? What is the least expensive book that you own?

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