Book Review: No Such Thing By Ella Bailey

First up, I am aching to tell you about this brand new Halloween book just out from Flying Eye Books. I am really in love with the books that Flying Eye publishes. If I could get my hands on all of them, I definitely would. But I digress, the newest book for today is a Halloween book I will happily indulge as it is cute, fun, clever, and not the least bit scary. This is the kind of book I would have preferred as a child for this holiday and I delight in sharing with my daughter. Here is No Such Thing by Ella Bailey, 2014.

When I received this book, I was immediately interested because of the lovely cloth cover and, of course, uncoated paper inside! There is no dust jacket to the book, something I have seen a few times from Flying Eye Books and I actually appreciate. I do love a beautiful dust jacket when combined with a surprise unique cover underneath, but often the dust jacket is just an unnecessary duplicate cover design. No Such Thing is beautifully printed, lovely to behold, and even more enjoyable for little hands as they don’t have to wrestle with the always falling off dust jacket.

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Once inside, the book continues to delight as the story unfolds. The protagonist is Georgia, a clever girl not easily fooled and quite observant. The setting is late October in Georgia’s home where she begins to notice strange things occurring. Objects move, disappear, break; but Georgia is a skeptic and refuses to follow suspicious thoughts of something spooky afoot. Georgia quickly zeroes in on whomever the culprit may be in each strange occurrence and is quite determined that there is “no such thing” as ghosts.

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This book works delightfully on many levels. First off, the illustrations are lovely. Bailey’s composition, illustration style, and color palette combine to make a beautiful book with an interesting position somewhere between cartoon and vintage illustration. There are great patterns sprinkled throughout on clothing and wallpaper and the modern aesthetic to the home makes me smile.

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The other thing that makes this book enter the delightful category are all the little details added to the background of the illustrations. Bailey is quite the room stylist. The contents of the refrigerator, shelf decor, bedspread pattern, ghosts, and toys add a whole extra element to enjoying and studying the illustrations.

Wait, did I say ghosts? Why, yes I did. Georgia may not believe in ghosts, but the keen-eyed observer will spot the white, happy little troublemakers hiding in every spread. In a brilliant storytelling move, this book delights readers by letting them be smarter and cleverer than the determined protagonist. Who doesn’t like being in on a secret? And these little ghosts are not your typical creepy, scary ghosts. These guys are adorable! Obviously just looking for fun, they are into everything, dancing, decorating, exploring, and leaving quite the mess behind. If it sounds like any kids you know, then they will love this book!

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I’m incredibly impressed that this is Ella Bailey’s debut picture-book. She is an illustrator in the UK and definitely has the European style to her charming characters. The big eyes, perfectly chosen muted colors, and backgrounds full of interesting items remind me of the things I love about work from people like Benjamin Chaud, Marc Boutavant, and Emily Hughes. I can’t wait to see more from Ella Bailey! Be sure to find this book and delight in seeking out those mischief-makers on every page; but remember, there’s no such thing as ghosts! Happy Halloween!

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