Hello friends!! Welcome to Top 5 Tuesday!! This week’s topic is top 5 illustrated books!! The proviso being that ‘illustrations’ can include fancy chapter dividers, beautiful drop caps, multimedia written books, or pretty end pages. There is no need to limit yourself to picture books on this one.
Like most kids, picture books played a huge part of my childhood. My mum tells me that I started reading to myself at an early age, but I’m certain that pictures played a huge part in this as well.
For this week’s post I’m not adding graphic novels, as I’ve already done my top 5 graphic novels last year. But I’m also not going to limit myself to picture books. (Mostly because we also did top 5 books from my childhood last year too, and there would be a lot of crossover!)
top 5 illustrated books
How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories — Holly Black
How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories is actually the reason that this topic exists. I was looking through my books and thinking ‘what haven’t we done yet?’ And then I looked at my Holly Black shelf, where inspiration usually strikes. And it did.
If you don’t know about this books, it’s number 3.5 in The Folk of the Air series (also known as The Cruel Prince trilogy).
The drawings in this book are absolutely gorgeous. Rovina Cai is the artist, and there is something on nearly every page. The drop caps to start each chapter are beautiful. Some of the images are silhouettes that convey and add to the story. And some of the illustrations have this lovely gold that really draws the attention from the darker themes and pictures.
How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories is by far, one of the best illustrated books I have ever had the pleasure of reading.
The Girl Who Speaks Bear — Sophie Anderson
Now, I am aware that it’s not uncommon to find middle grade books with pictures in them. In fact, it’s quite common. But the middle grade novels by Sophie Anderson that are based on Slavic folklore are some of my favourites.
In fact, it actually annoys me that the paperback versions are the only ones I can find that are illustrated. Mostly because while I like the covers, I prefer the hardcover covers more. Partly for the art, and partly for the textured end papers.
However, the illustrations in the paperbacks are so lovely. There are borders around the small myths throughout the books ― so you can tell them apart from the story. And then there are actual illustrations that help tell the story too.
And it’s not just in The Girl Who Speaks Bear. The House with Chicken Legs, and The Castle of Tangled Magic are the same. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that The Thief Who Sang Storms is the same ― I just haven’t got a copy yet!
Gemina — Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
I did deliberately add ‘mixed media’ to the list when I wrote this prompt because I was thinking about the Illuminae Files when I wrote it. However, flicking through the books reminded me that there are genuine illustrations in Gemina.
Hanna, one of our protagonists, genuinely draws in her journal. The pages of which end up in this mixed media told story. But the thing that I love MOST about this, is that author Marie Lu is the artist that Jay and Amie collaborated with.
Marie’s illustrations are top-notch, although I have no idea if she also illustrates her own books. But her portraits of the characters are exactly as I had pictured them. She’s so talented.
I remember going to the launch event for this (or maybe Obsidio), and Amie and Jay talked about how they were looking for an artist “just like Marie”, only to realise that they should just ask Marie. And thankfully, she accepted.
Nevermoor — Jessica Townsend
I need all my fellow Aussie’s to stand up and shout for the unfairness that this section will be. You see, I’ve been collecting copies of Nevermoor like it’s my lifeblood. OK, maybe I’m not quite that fanatical, but I do have a few versions.
In fact, I collect five different versions of this series. I have the Aus ARC, Aus paperback, Aus hardcover, US hardcover and the UK hardcover. Technically my UK hardcovers are Goldsboro editions, but apart from the numbers and sprayed edges they should be the same. And despite Jessica being an Aussie author, the Australian versions are the ONLY ones without illustrations in the books.
Although, the US version has the best illustrations, hands down. Each chapter has a small illustration of something in the following chapter. They’re very beautiful and detailed pictures, despite their size, too. It just gives it that little something extra!
My favourite one though, is the little portrait of Morrigan towards the end of Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow. Morrigan looks exactly as I picture her, and not like on the covers of the US versions.
I Shall Wear Midnight — Terry Pratchett
Now, I could have gone for a few different Discworld books in this topic. I have so many books that have been illustrated by Josh Kirby and Paul Kidby that it is almost frightening. Just to list a few, I have The Folklore of Discworld, The Art of Discworld, Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook, and The Discworld Almanak. However, these are all companion books and I didn’t get them for the stories. (Except the Folklore one.)
So, we’re going with the Tiffany Aching books because they are my favourite. AND they are the only Discworld books that I know of that have little images at the start of each chapter. Much like the US versions of Nevermoor.
The pictures are always understated. Sometimes it’s something innocuous like a plant or a mug of ale. Sometimes it’s one of the Nac Mac Feegles. But occasionally it’s something wondrous. Chapter 8 (The King’s Neck) in I Shall Wear Midnight is an onion with ship sails. Like, the some kind of onion boat. It always relates to the chapter too, which is very clever.
FYI, I have built an actual database of everyone who I have ever discovered that has joined in with a Top 5 Tuesday topic. Which means, I will be able to come and visit blogs every week to find your posts. So you won’t necessarily need to link your posts below (unless you want to). But, if you’re new or I’ve not found your blog, please let me know and I will add you!
Books Less Travelled
The Punk Theory
Tay’s Infinite Thoughts
Peat Long’s Blog
Less Than Three D
Books Are 42
The Pine-Scented Chronicles
Your Book Friend
DB’s Guide to the Galaxy