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Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Book About Design

Very few books appeal equally to the 8 and the 5 year old these days. The older one is into fiction primarily and is going through this scare phase, curling up with anything from Mary Downing Hahn's ghost stories to Haunted America by M.Norman and, of course, good old Goosebumps. The younger one is a non-fiction fanatic, choosing books in his current topic of interest as we go along.

So, unless it is a toddler/pre-schooler favorite that they've both enjoyed being read to by an obsessed mom, it is unlikely that they'd have an extended book discussion at this stage...

And then, every once in a while a book comes along that knock them both off their boots, making me grin widely. The set of three books here by Mark Gonyea, (who has become a household name over the last couple of weeks), has been read multiple times with full gusto.

A Book About Design: Complicated Doesn't Make It Good
by Mark Gonyea

This book inspired the 8 year old to try out every concept from the ten chapters.

Be it the cardinal ratio 1:3:9 or the receding cool colors, or the relative sizes for emphasis, Gonyea manages to get the point across with a few chosen words and a fantastic visual to go with it.

The simplicity of uncluttered design comes across loud and clear in this book.

The 5 yo simply loved reading it over and over, picking up vocabulary, and comparing the cover image with the one inside of a similar nature.

Another Book About Design: Complicated Doesn't Make It Bad 
by Mark Gonyea

Following up on the previous book, Gonyea has managed to bring across a few more interesting concepts in design.

Starting with the big picture, it is nice to see how adding details changes the design. Foreground and background, negative and positive space are clearly shown. Yes, shown. W

ith minimal words, and bold visuals, Gonyea has managed to show some tough concepts in visual art design.

Sometimes sequels fall flat, seem weaker, but not in this case. After convincing us that complicated does not mean good in the previous book, he has set out to convince us that complicated isn't bad either.

That's the beauty of design.

A Book About Color: A Clear and Simple Guide for Young Artists 
by Mark Gonyea

Starting with "Welcome to the Neighborhood", Gonyea introduces the Color Street with 6 houses - violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, red. Then goes on to talk about primary colors and secondary colors.

Since most pre-schoolers know about primary and secondary colors anyway,  we don't have to stop here. The book talks about saturation, hues, color wheel, and the fact that cool colors recede and warm colors stand out, and projecting moods via bright bold colors and muted pastels.

Each chapter focuses on one aspect of color theory. One curious thing that the 5 year old noticed: Whereas he expected the intro page of each chapter to go by the 6 colors of the color street, not all were represented and not all that were represented were in the order presented at the beginning. Such perceived inconsistencies tends to catch his attention...

All in all, three awesome books for all ages about design and color principles.

[image source: macmillan]
[author website:]

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