March 2024 books

Kodi, Jared Cullum

I first came across Jared Cullum randomly on YouTube a couple of years ago with his video on his process for making comics with watercolour was recommended by the algorithm. It just so happened to be coming up to Christmas at the time so I put Kodi on my list for that year. I first read it that Christmas evening back in 2022, reading it in one sitting and since then I've occasionally flicked through it just to gaze at the art.

I decided to give it another read this month, reading it in one session again, if I recall. It's a lovely story about a girl, Katya, who befriends a bear (whom she names Kodi) while she's on holiday but must return home abruptly. We then follow both characters as Katya longs to see Kodi again and Kodi goes on a journey to find Katya. It's aimed at younger audiences so despite it being 100+ pages of comics, it's a quick read. I almost feel guilty blasting through it so quickly which is why I make sure I go back occasionally and give the art the attention it so rightly deserves!

I now follow Jared on many platforms so I know Kodi 2 is well underway at the time of this writing and I'll definitely be picking up a copy as soon as it lands so this won't be the last time you hear of Kodi and Katya from me...

A Very British Murder: The Curious Story of How Crime was Turned into Art, Lucy Worsley

We're big fans of Lucy Worsley's shows on BBC iPlayer, even the kids enjoy the shows we let them watch. When I heard this book was being released, I got a copy for Lu's birthday, which included a signed bookplate.

At first, I wasn't really drawn in to the book but after persevering for a few chapters, I got into the swing of it. As the title suggests, it's an interesting look at how murder found its way into the public interest, first by way of newspapers reporting on events in Victorian England and on to authors then creating books and characters with murder at the heart of the story, such as Agatha Christie's books featuring Poirot or Marple. This has now developed a thirst in the general public which today takes the form of True Crime documentaries and podcasts.

Nausica├Ą of the Valley of the Wind, Hayao Miyazaki

Coming in at over 1000 pages, I didn't think I was going to finish this one in March but it pulled me in so much that I was reading it at every opportunity I could so I quickly made it to the end (well, it took about a week or so).

This is the manga off which the Studio Ghibli film was created. I believe part of the drive behind this comic was to help pitch the film, but I might not be recalling that properly so don't quote me.

The overall story is essentially an environmental parable, slightly depressing to think that it's still relevant today despite the manga concluding 30 years ago. Earth of the future has been ravaged by war and pollution has led to toxic forests spreading across the land, clans fighting for power...

It really is epic. It's a complex story with many twists and turns with some absolutely mind-blowing art to gawk over. It's definitely a book I'll return to again but perhaps not for a year or two.

Beatrix Potter artist & illustrator, Anne Stevenson Hobbs

Over the Easter half-term, I had some time off and decided to go renew my library membership. I spent ages looking around the various sections and came back with a few books, this being one of them.

I've read a few of the Beatrix Potter books with the kids, but I wouldn't consider myself anywhere close to being a fan or anyone who has any knowledge of her as a person. I'll hold my hands up and admit I never thought about Potter's art outside of the illustrations she did for her books, which of course still show the level of mastery she had over the medium, but flicking through this book in the library, I realised I'd only seen the tip of the iceberg.

If you're like me, this book is a real eye-opener. You quickly realise Potter's skill as an artist goes far beyond cute animal characters in little clothes. She was a life-long observer of nature and from a young age was drawing her surroundings. Today, you might refer to this as urban or nature journaling. As I've been delving a bit more into observational drawing, I found this really inspiring.