The World of Donald Evans, by Willy Eisenhart (1994) isn't a kid's book. But it is a book, I'm pretty sure, that a certain type of kid would find magical--the sort of kid who has imaginary worlds that they bring to life through art and writing.
That's what Donald Evans (1945-1977), did, with a twist. He hand-painted postage stamps of imaginary provinces and countries--whole sheets of stamps depicting flora and fauna, buildings, and people from places that never were. The resulting miniature watercolors have a strange and wondrous charm to them, and are rather beautiful in a surreal way.
Eisenhart's book begins with a brief biography of Evans, describing an imaginative childhood in which he and his best friend filled their days with world building. The book then moves on to the stamps themselves, and features page after page of illustrations of the stamps, and even the envelopes and postcards on which Evan's "mailed" them--he made his own cancellation marks. Eisenhart provides text explaining the images, and providing background on the fictional countries.
There's Katibo, an alternate Surinam, Lichaam and Geest, twin countries in the north of Europe, Mangiare, an Italianate country whose stamps include a series of landscapes named with food puns, and many more.
The resulting book makes for magical browsing... and it also makes me want to get out my own watercolors, and try my own hand at world building on this very small but far-reaching scale....My ten year old, a budding stamp collector, found it fascinating as well.
The Non-Fiction Monday Round-up is at Shelf Employed today!