Saturday, 5 November 2016

Johanna's Christmas Colouring Book by Johanna Basford

It's no secret that I love Christmas, so when I heard that Johanna Basford was bringing out a Christmas colouring book there was no doubt that I would add it to my collection.

It came out at the end of last month and Mr Click preordered it for me along with her other recent release Magical Jungle. Both arrived on Tuesday and after spending the whole day working on my NaNo project, he brought them home to me and I spent a fair amount of time flicking through the pages, stroking them and making cooing noises.

I love getting pretty things to play with.

I'll blog my thoughts on Magical Jungle some other time but last night I cracked open Johanna's Christmas and got down to some colouring in so I figured I should share my thoughts on it.

My copy is the UK edition which has a slightly different cover to the American edition, though the contents of both books are essentially the same. The UK cover has the same gold foil accents as we're used to seeing on the other Johanna Basford colouring books, while the American one has the wreath around the title picked out in red and green foil. I like the gold accents because they match my three other colouring books in the series, but there is something really festive about the US version.

Unlike the other three books this one doesn't have a removable dust jacket. It kind of looks like it has one but it turns out this is actually something called a 'French Flap'. The cover folds over like a dust jacket, but doesn't come off. This is kind of handy because you can use the cover to mark your place in your book if you want to.

Normally I take the dust jackets off while I'm working on a picture so that they don't get torn or damaged so I was a little unsure about how I'd get on with the cover of this book. Turns out it's fine. The cover is much thinner than the other books so it's not as bulky. I'm a little worried about the cover getting grubby if I take it out and about with me, but at least it's not getting in the way of my colouring.

Both Johanna's Christmas and Magical Jungle adopt a slightly different format with perforated pages so once your pictures are complete you can pull them out and frame them, should that be your kind of thing. The latter book doesn't have perforations all the way through, just the last few pictures in the book (instead of the large pull out picture which the earlier books had), whereas every page of Johanna's Christmas is perforated. The pictures in this book are also single-sided. There's a pattern on the back of the pages which you could colour in if you wished, but it's a sort of optional extra.

I was pleased to see the paper in this book is much better than Lost Ocean. As much as I love Lost Ocean I was kind of disappointed with the paper, which is thinner, bright white and doesn't have the same texture as the pages of Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest. Johanna's Christmas is whiter than the original two books, but it feels considerably thicker. When I coloured in the title page of Lost Ocean pressing too hard dented not only the page I was working on but also the page beneath. This didn't happen when I colouring the title page for Johanna's Christmas and I was colouring in poor light so probably did press harder than I needed to in some places.

I'm not sure how well the paper would react to pens or watercolours. From what I've seen online, it seems to get pretty good reviews. Thankfully a new addition to the latest books is a 'Colour Palette Test Page' at the very back of the book. I think this is a pretty good example of Johanna listening to what the fans want because I know people have been asking for this. I carry around an old letter from the Estate in my pencil box to test my colours on but this is far preferable because it allows you to see how the colours and tools react to the actual paper in the book. I hope we carry on getting the test page at the back.

Actually, it would be cool if future books maybe included some other things in the back, like tips and tricks, or perhaps a little 'how to' so you can learn to doodle like Johanna to add to the pictures she's drawn.

Of course the most important thing of all when it comes to colouring books is what's in the pictures. This one is a lovely blend of patterns, scenes, animals and objects. There are some familiar pictures in there, a hare, an owl and a deer which are similar to previous books except this time they've got a more festive feel to them. There's a lot of presents, stockings, candy canes and robins. In fact, there's a bunch of robins hidden through the book. I found most of them on Thursday night as I scanned through it but I'm looking forward to keeping a proper tally of all of the ones I've found as I colour it in.

I was a little worried that all I would have to colour in this book would be red and green. Through these colouring books I've learned to experiment with colour (particularly colouring things in using colours they're not) as well as to limit myself to a specific palette. I did wonder whether my colour options might be somewhat limited, but there's a nice mix of realistic and whimsy in here.

I've seen some complaints at the lack of Santas and Elves. Apparently Johanna doesn't enjoy drawing people and I can't fault her choice. The book is filled with plenty of other festive pictures all of which definitely evoke a sense of Christmas. It's not that I don't want to see pictures of Father Christmas, it's just that there's so much more to the holiday than just a jolly old fat man. And while he might not be represented in the pages, it's clear that he's there in the background; not only do we have his sleigh, we have a fireplace scene complete with bulging stockings and a nibbled biscuit.

While this is a shorter book than her other colouring books (it clocks in at 37 images to colour), it's definitely worth adding to your collection if you enjoy Christmas, colouring or both. I'm planning on using it to wind down of an evening while we watch Christmas films, what better way to give yourself a little mental break whilst still doing something festive?


  1. I've never gotten into the adult coloring books but that is a nice one.

    1. I find them really relaxing to do. Especially after a busy day at work, they help me switch my brain off, or like yesterday when I was having a bad endo day.


Let me know what you think. :-)