Along with washi tape, these coloring books were on my Christmas wish list of art supplies for my girls; my sister-in-law also purchased these lovelies for us. I guess I should say “for them” rather than “for us,” but it was clear, as I raved about the books after my daughter opened them, that I really wanted them for myself. The eight-year-old in me wants my own copies to hide away. My daughter adores it when I color with her, so I will be coloring in these and have spent some time doing so already.

While the words “ugly” and “pretty” are subjective, I have to say, ugly coloring books are one of my pet peeves. I know that two and three-year-olds don’t care what’s on the page in front of them—my daughter went through a phase where she just wanted to complete every book she was given by quickly scribbling on every single page—but I hate seeing dumbed-down pictures around and I don’t think books that are filled with such inspire a love of art or demand attention. I’d rather give my daughters blank paper. And it isn’t that I’m against all character coloring books—I have vivid memories of very carefully and happily coloring in a Winnie-the-Pooh coloring book when I was little. But there are some books that are just awful. Maybe part of the reason that I’ve developed strong feelings about this is that I do color with my daughter, when she asks, and I don’t want to color boring or obnoxious pictures.

I do believe that beautiful coloring books give children a greater appreciation for drawing and composition. I really love the two artists featured here: Johanna Basford and Roz Streeten.

Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book is the first Johanna Basford book we’ve acquired and it is delightful. As you flip through the pages, you become enveloped in a floral wonderland. There is a lot of detail in this book and I love the way she does so many different things with the primary subject of flowers. Also, I love the color-able paper cover.


All of Roz Streeten’s Rosie Flo books feature wonderfully creative drawings of outfits, each book carrying a different theme. The delicate line-work of her drawings is beautiful. The outfits may be colored and then children may draw in the people themselves. We have several of the Rosie Flo coloring books, but I think Rosie Flo’s Travel Coloring Book may be my favorite. It’s been fun telling my daughter a little bit about the different countries featured. She was very interested when we were looking through the pages together and asked a lot of questions. Also, in the travel coloring book, along with outfits one might see when traveling to other countries, Streeten also features outfits which are from travel back in time, which I thought was clever.


Every Rosie Flo coloring book includes post cards to color, at both the front and back of the book.


This simple, yet expressive image below may be my favorite in the book. So darling!


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