Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pookie by Ivy L.Wallace

I love vintage books and I don't stumble across really nice ones too often. My daughter's grandmother produced this beauty on the weekend and had me in raptures. Take a look at a few of the illustrations and I'm sure you'll agree it is a lovely book:

Pookie by Ivy L.Wallace - Cover

Pookie by Ivy L.Wallace - Back Spread

Ivy L. Wallace created a series of Pookie books, and judging by what I saw on Amazon they are quite collectable. This book was first published in 1947 if I remember correctly. Read more about Ivy Wallace at Wikipedia.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Kids' Wall Art by Go Benny Go

Finally. Go Benny Go is here! Our website and Etsy Store have gone live, launching with kids' wall art in the form of printed canvases and posters. Gift cards are planned for release in the next few months, and it is our hope that there will be many more products to follow. Take a look at our first collection of children's canvas art prints. It truly felt like it would never happen, but here they are:

Go Benny Go Kids' Wall Art - Counting Monsters Triptych
Bedding and toy are also Go Benny Go designs but are currently not available for purchase.

Above is my favourite from the collection - a three piece set of 30cm x 30cm canvases featuring our counting monsters. Each monster has something that corresponds to the number next to him, such as 4 legs, or 12 flies. See if you can spot what they are; here are the same characters in poster format:

Go Benny Go Kids' Wall Art - Counting Monsters A2 Poster
Printed on quality 250gsm satin stock

We will show some close-ups of the counting monsters on the Go Benny Go Blog shortly. All the other prints in the first collection are 20cm x 20cm canvases, and we have a range of both girls and boys' designs.

Go Benny Go Kids' Wall Art - Miss Molly's Brolly, and A Daisy Day
Bedding and toy are also Go Benny Go designs but are currently not available for purchase.

Go Benny Go Kids' Wall Art - A Daisy Day

Go Benny Go Kids' Wall Art - Miss Molly's Brolly

Go Benny Go Kids' Wall Art - A Day in Autumn

 Go Benny Go Kids' Wall Art - Nighty Nite Bunny, Blue

Nighty Nite Bunny is also available in Purple and Lilac

Go Benny Go Kids' Wall Art - Freewheelin'

And some of you may recognise this cool cat - we have shown him on Kitty as a Picture before. Meet Benny...

Go Benny Go Kids' Wall Art - Benny and the Rocket

Our focus has been firmly on quality. We have taken great care to ensure the prints are of the highest standard and we are proud of the result. There is a vibrancy and clarity to the prints that is impossible to convey in web images. We use genuine pigment inks, formulated with built-in UV protection to inhibit fading, and a quality U.S manufactured canvas - a heavy weight 430gsm with a lovely texture, it exceeds the standards of the Worldwide Fine Art Trade Guild for archival quality. For extra protection the canvases are sealed with a couple of coats of laminate, protecting against UV fading, scratching, and water. The laminate also contains anti-fungal components. The prints are hand-stretched over high quality kiln-dried New Zealand pine stretcher bars, and come ready to hang. If looked after they will last a lifetime.

We've aimed to create a unique range that will stimulate a child's imagination; canvases that last and can be kept as a memento of a childhood. We hope you like our collection.

Please visit the Go Benny Go website to see more images of of our kids' wall art collection.
There are a number of ways to keep up to date with Go Benny Go news, events, and special offers. Go Benny Go Facebook page or Twitter is a first stop for all news. There is also the Go Benny Go Blog, or if you wish to be kept up to date by email you are welcome to subscribe to our newsletter.

A Discount Code for Kitty as a Picture Readers

Readers of Kitty as a Picture who wish to purchase a Go Benny Go printed canvas are invited to use our discount code KITTY for an 8% discount, valid until the end of July 2011 at We ship worldwide.
With every purchase from we will be making a donation to Jigsaw, a not-for-profit organisation focused on the well-being of all New Zealand children and their families. The diverse group of independent, community-based social service agencies that make up the Jigsaw network, advocate against all forms of child abuse, neglect, and family violence and provide support to families so they can raise their children in safe and nurturing ways.

Go Benny Go at Cosset Café, Auckland

The new Go Benny Go collection of kids' wall art will be exhibited at Cosset Café in Mt Albert, Auckland, from Monday 27 June until Sunday 3 July. If you haven't already been to Cosset you are sure to enjoy it - the coffee is excellent, and the food too is fantastic. The café has a lovely ambiance and is my favourite in Auckland; I feel very privileged to be able to show our artworks there. Get along next week, soak up the cool vibes of Cosset, and check out Go Benny Go at the same time.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Bear and the Wildcat

The Bear and the Wildcat
Written by Kazumi Yumoto and illustrated by Komako Sakai

One morning, Bear was crying.
           His best friend, a little bird, was dead.

It is a powerful beginning to a powerful story.  The Bear and the Wildcat moved me to tears. I admit that now I am a mother it takes very little to make my eyes water (TV adverts of sick and starving children, and themes of loss will do it most times), but this is an extraordinary book. Every detail is so perfectly crafted and constructed, it deserves a place on every bookshelf - not as a read-to-the kids-before-bed book, but as a take-out-occasionally-when-the mood-suits book. It has an old-worldy feel about it, as if it was produced many years ago and is something that has been treasured by a family for generations. I am quite sure you will find nothing else like it.

Spread from The Bear and the Wildcat. Illustration by Komako Sakai

This incredible book tells the story of Bear as he tries to come to terms with the loss of his best friend. He makes a little box for the bird, stains it with berry juice and lines it with petals, carrying it everywhere, unable to let go. His friends urge him to move on and 'forget about him', but Bear is not ready to do so.

Then one day Bear meets a mysterious wildcat who shows an empathy and quiet understanding that no one else has before. He too carries a precious box with him - a violin. 'Let me play a song for you and your little friend', he says.

Detail from The Bear and the Wildcat. Illustration by Komako Sakai

In this touching moment, the memories come flooding back to Bear, and he reflects on his time with little bird.  In doing so he is able to find his way forward.

Spread from The Bear and the Wildcat. Illustration by Komako Sakai

Here begins a new life for Bear; one deepened by his experience of grief, his memories, and his new friendship. His new life promises adventure, and is full of exciting possibilties that Bear had never considered before. I do not want to describe this sequence in detail because it is so beautifully done in words and pictures, that I couldn't possibly do it justice.

The Bear and the Wildcat is mesmerising. It is so brilliant in every detail, that it is impossible to imagine it could have been done any other way. The illustrations are exquisite and capture the mood absolutely. They are quietly emotive in a sophisticated way - giving enough to the reader to draw them in without drama. The layout of the pages appears to be carefully considered, some with lots of text, some with little, some with only pictures, and some are even left blank. The illustrations vary in impact too with some bleeding out to the edges engulfing the whole page, and some smaller like tiny snippets of memory. The illustrative style gives the story a magical quality as if the reader is looking through something to another world. These considerations all work together to create a lovely pacing that allows the reader contemplation, maximising the reader's empathy.

In picture-book form it is easy to assume this is a children's book. It is that and, with the guidance of a parent or councillor, would make excellent material for a child who is grieving or has experienced loss. But it is so well put together that it can be appreciated by adults too, and the message of hope and new beginnings is surely valuable to all. The illustrations are so masterful that they alone make it a worthy purchase, and in hardback form with high quality production, it is money well spent. I am utterly captivated by this book. It is going high on my bookshelf away from grubby little hands, and I hope it will be treasured by my daughter when she is older, and then by her children too.

About the Author - Kazumi Yumoto

Kazumi Yumoto was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1959. She studied music composition at Tokyo College and during this time wrote opera libretti and plays for radio and television. Her books, mostly novels for older children, have won numerous international awards.

About the Illustrator - Komako Sakai

After graduating from Tokyo National university of Fine Arts and Music, Komako Sakai worked at a kimono textile design company. She is one of the most popular children's author/illustrators in Japan.

This translated version of The Bear and the Wildcat is published by Gecko Press in New Zealand.
IBSN 978-1-877467-70-7
For ages 4 to infinity
181 x 236 mm 
48 pages, Hardback. 

A huge thanks to Gecko Press for allowing Kitty as a Picture Kids' Design Blog permission to review this book.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Stella McCartney Kids Summer Prints

I have a fantastic book to show you, coming up next, but first I have been itching to do this post for a while - Stella McCartney Kids. Her collection of prints this season is so interesting; I've picked out a few that stood out to me:

VALENTINE: Girls'organic cotton printed tank top; by Stella McCartney

BETSEY: Girls' organic cotton Tahiti print pyjamas
BART : Baby boys' organic cotton two-piece pyjamas
By Stella McCartney

Top left: EMMA - Babies' bloomers and top
Top Right: BILLY - Kids'organic cotton fleece printed sweatshirt
Middle Right: JIMBO - Babies organic cotton fleece printed all-in-one
Bottom TED : Babies'long-sleeved printed sweater
By Stella McCartney

LYDIA Blouse: Girls' floral print bohemian
INGRID: Girls' viscose three quarter sleeved bird print dress
By Stella McCartney

POLLY: Girls' flower print waterproof hooded jacket; by Stella McCartney

I am quite fascinated by these prints - there is an unusual mix of styles and designs and I am loving them all. The horse print is a favourite, and I'm sure a lot of children would be particularly drawn to this design. All-round a beautiful collection, and that's not all, so hop over to Stella McCartney for more inspiring summer prints for kids.

Friday, June 10, 2011

MayMay Chung Now Available Online!

I promised I would bring you more from the stunning new label MayMay Chung, and I am delighted to. The complete first-season range is now available online at the new MayMay Chung website, and it is spectacular!

Top: Beatrice Black Cushion; Bottom: Louie Black Cushion
 Both are hand screen prints on Belgian bone linen.

MayMay Chung is the collaboration of three sisters. Trained in the different disciplines of fine arts, graphic design, and architecture they have all recently returned to New Zealand after working variously in Hong Kong, London and New York for many years. Combining their experience has resulted in this unique label which is already getting attention and has appeared in Your Home and Garden.

Left: An article in Your Home and Garden featuring MayMay Chung's Florence Pink Cushion and Friends White (Grey) Print
Right: Florence Pink Cushion.

MayMay Chung's first season is themed around the sisters' favourite New Zealand birds - the fantail, morepork and tui or MayMay, Florence and Huey.

Top Left: MayMay Pink Gift Card; Top Right: Huey Orange Gift Card
Bottom: Florence Green Gift Card

MayMay Chung's initial range of products includes homeware and stationery - cushions, tea-towels, prints and gift cards. They plan to expand their range to include bedding and bags as well as a dedicated children's range.

From top: Beatrice Teal Cushion, MayMay Green Cushion, Huey Pink Cushion, Louie White (Grey) Cushion.

Aucklander's will have their chance to see MayMay Chung at the Auckland Art and Craft Fair tomorrow. The fair runs from 11am - 3pm at the Aotea Centre, THE EDGE. Entry is by gold coin donation.
For those that can't make it to the fair, visit MayMay Chung's website to see the full range from this exciting emerging label.

Read Kitty as a Picture's earlier article about MayMay Chung here.

Many thanks to MayMay Chung for allowing Kitty as a Picture Kids' Design Blog to publish this article.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Juliette Arnott - Acrylic on Canvas

Juliette Arnott is a New Zealand artist whose acrylic paintings are so charming, yet I've only just discovered her recently thanks to a friend who forwarded me a link. A google search revealed little, but I was fortunate enough to make contact with Juliette and was able to ask her some questions directly.

 Acrylic on canvas by Juliette Arnott 900mm x 800mm

Q: Could you please tell me a little about your background? Is art your focus or a hobby? 

A: I trained at Wanganui Polytech after leaving school and then got involved in a family business and left my brushes for a number of years. Since having my daughter I found it hard to find nice artwork for her bedroom walls, so out came the brushes and paints! Since then I have had a lot of people interested in buying them so I have sold them at Garden Fetes and at a couple of stores, but mainly my customers come to me via word of mouth which is great. I have 1 day a week I can dedicate to my painting which I love - it's my time out. 

Acrylic on canvas by Juliette Arnott 900mm x 800mm

Acrylic on canvas by Juliette Arnott 900mm x 800mm

Q: What is the inspiration behind your paintings?

A: My main inspiration is my daughter Meg and my gorgeous donkeys Hector, Wills, and Bramble. I also grew up with a donkey to ride, so I guess there's a little of me too!
I like to make each painting a little different to the next, and I am finding the more I do the more I enjoy them. I also get inspiration for the patterns on the donkeys and girls' dresses from beautiful fabrics and wall papers.
I also sell a range of cards, which are a print applied to a thin wooden board which borders the print, at my parents Scullys shop in Bulls.

Photograph of Juliette's daughter Meg and donkey Bramble.
Acrylic on canvas by Juliette Arnott 900mm x 800mm

Acrylic on canvas by Juliette Arnott 900mm x 800mm

Brimming with vibrant colour and pattern, it is no surprise that I am now a fan of Juliette's paintings. It is easy to imagine them brightening a child's bedroom, but they can decorate other spaces too being appealing in so many ways. Inspiring too... it makes me want to get painting!

Juliette's art can be purchased from Just William in Greytown, at Scullys in Bulls, at Chambers on Ponsonby Road Auckland, or you can contact her directly by email at Juliette is also on Facebook.

A huge thanks to Juliette Arnott for allowing Kitty as a Picture Kids' Design Blog to feature this work.