D.E.S.I.G.N. by Ewa Solarz, illustrated by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski

Design of buildings and household objects are one of the last things that I would normally be interested in finding out about.  Thanks to H.O.U.S.E. and D.E.S.I.G.N. written by Ewa Solarz and illustrated by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski I know more about these two subjects than I thought I ever would.  One of the best publishers around, Gecko Press, have translated them into English and published them in New Zealand so we get to pore over these fantastic books and learn about some of the bizarre and fascinating objects and buildings that people have designed and brought to life.

One of the things  I really love about D.E.S.I.G.N. is that the illustrations are appealing to children, but the author hasn’t dumbed down the information.  There are 69 of the most innovative household items from the past 150 years in D.E.S.I.G.N. and I had no idea that most of them even existed. The illustrations are quirky, every page is full of bold colours, and there are diagrams showing you how each object works or is supposed to be used.  There is a handy key at the beginning of the book showing you what each of the symbols mean throughout the book.  These symbols on each page tell you what the object is made of, what it can be used for and which country the designer/inventor is from.  There’s also an index in the back to help you find your favourite objects.

D.E.S.I.G.N. is a book that you can come back to again and again, and discover something new each time.  It’s the perfect book for those inquisitive children, especially boys, who want to know how things work, and adults will love it just as much as children.  One of my top nonfiction books for children of 2011.

Three of the best from Gecko Press

Gecko Press have been keeping up their tradition of producing English language versions of curiously good books from around the world. Here are three of the best recent releases.

The Noisy Book by Soledad Bravi is a board book filled with bright, bold illustrations and lots and lots of noises (over 100 pages). There are noises you would expect to find, like ‘The cat goes meow,’ ‘The horse goes neigh,’ and ‘The rooster goes cockadoodle doo.’ But what I like most are the noises you don’t expect, like ‘The cold goes aachoo,’ ‘Mummy goes kiss kiss,’ and ‘The power socket goes NO!’ This is the perfect book to share with babies and toddlers because everyone can enjoy making the noises.

The Fierce Little Woman and the Wicked Pirate is a newly illustrated edition of one of Joy Cowley’s most loved picture books. I loved this book as soon as I set my eyes on it! Sarah Davis’ illustrations are absolutely stunning and she has captured Joy Cowley’s characters perfectly. Thank you Gecko Press for giving this wonderful story new life.

H.O.U.S.E (or Habitable, Objects, Unique, Spatial, Extraordinary) by Aleksandra Machowiak and Daniel Mizielinski is a fascinating book about contemporary architecture for kids. It’s a book for all those children (and adults) who are fascinated with buildings of all shapes and sizes. Inside, you’ll find spiky houses, inflatable houses, houses in trees and houses underground, from all over the world. The authors explain the inspiration behind the design of each house, as well as the materials used to build it, and where in the world it can be found.

These are just three of the latest and greatest books from Gecko Press. I’m sure we can look forward to more curiously good books from Gecko Press next year.