EMPORIUM: perfect objects made by others that we wish we had made ourselves.
Rosie Flo & Johnny Joe Colouring Books
Drawn and published by Roz Streeten and printed in the UK, these books are destined to become things of legend to the children who grew up with them. They were born out of the long hours that Streeten spent drawing with her daughters when they were small: the demand was usually that she draw dresses, which the girls would then populate with characters and colour in. The books conform to this simple yet exciting idea: each page has various outfits of wild inventiveness, usually complete with hats and shoes, but gaps where the faces, arms and legs should be. There are ten Rosie Flo books and these have now been joined by two Johnny Joe books whose scenarios are somewhat more action-oriented and less focused on the extremes of personal decoration. Since we rather deplore the current gender-division of most children’s toys, we are going to leave you to draw your own conclusions about which books your child might prefer.
Streeten designed the books to have none of the defects so often found in colouring books. The paper is of good quality and can be coloured in using felt-tip pens without the pen going through and spoiling the image on the other side. They are small enough to be carried about easily and sturdy enough to withstand the damage that that entails. The lines of the drawings are not too thick, as that implies that colouring is an activity only for the very young. The finished images can be extremely sophisticated and the books appeal to an age range of at least 4 to 12. Most importantly, the drawings are beautiful: fresh, funny, inventive and inspiring.