Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane by C M Millen

Illustrated by Andrea Wisnewski. Charlesbridge provided my review copy. This is a beautiful picture book with illustrated endpapers. It is unpaginated.

Theophane is a young monk who, along with the other monks in the monastery, copies wise words in calligraphy into text in books. They use simple brown ink that is easy to make, they wear brown robes, they sit at brown desks, and Theophane spends more time looking at the window at the colors of nature then he does working. He loves the beauty of the world.

When he is assigned to make ink, he experiments with colors. And soon the books are full of color and no longer all boring brown!

The pictures in the book are vibrant and full of detail. The illustrations provide examples of the items mentioned in the text. The font used is similar to calligraphy and adds to the charm of the story.

At the end of the book, there is an Author's Note that gives you more history about monasteries and copying books. There is also reference to books and websites that show you how to make your hawthorn bark ink, experiment with extracting colors with plants, and tell you how illuminated manuscripts were made.

Not only is it a joy to read, your child can learn from it, too. I highly recommend this book.

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