I wanted to bring this out last year, but mum lent it to someone a few days before pesach and instead I've had to wait a whole year before showing off this beauty. We've had it for years, or at least long enough for me to remember it from childhood. The illustrative typography and drawings are quite something and I've hopefully picked out the best spreads and details. It's clearly aimed at kids, with a few naive children looking earnest and well behaved throughout the book.
For some reason, the Didone really complements the hebrew font, despite their obvious historical differences. I'm not talking about the difference in language; more that Bodoni/Didone modern faces were a brave leap from their historical forebears and the hebrew script is a a faithful echo. The urgency in the hebrew is much more emotive than the english, but they balance each other quite well. Full marks to the original designer for giving the didone the perfect amount breathing space on the page. In most cases the hebrew side leaps off the page with thick lashings of black while the english seems to be a calm restraint - perhaps to make it easier and less threatening for kids to understand. Only now do I realise that the left side is english and the right is hebrew throughout the book. Making it easy for kids not only to follow, but to keep parents convinced that the good little children can learn hebrew by osmosis.
Bodoni aside, there's some really wonderful expressive typography throughout. They're mostly chapter/page headings and really serve to balance the strong vertical emphasis. They've even gone and used the long forgotten long s; they get full marks for trying to bring that back although I wonder how many kids tripped up on this (I know I still do).
Loving these crazy as hell drawings as well. Nothing like a bit of forward thinking messianic belief to pave the way for children to be sitting on a lion and playing with birds and a giraffe. What's with all the animals being african? The reason I think Passover is the big festival on the jewish calender is it really gets to show off and flex the biblical god's muscles. Killing the first born, splitting the sea, all the plagues, he really gets to wave his smiting stick around.
Check out the trippy get up going on here. Here's this kid just calmly accepting the presence of a star-traveller who's turned their door into a portal just so he can come and get a free glass of wine. If you're not big on your jewish mythology, this guy is Eliyahu (or Elijah if you want his lame name) who is coming to decide on whether or not there should be 4 or 5 glasses of wine. By leaving one out for him we're leaving the decision up to him, but if he does come and decide to be a guest get ready for the end of day; fun times.
I should have the rest of this stuff up on flickr by the end of the week.