Once, very briefly, I worked in publishing. I learned a lot in that short time, and I learned things that have come in handy in most of my subsequent jobs. (I have also briefly worked in museums, in software, in ice cream, and in men's pants, and the knowledge that I gained in each of those venues has had unexpected applications later in life. For example, I can still estimate a man's inseam at 25 paces.)
In my capacity as an Editorial Assistant, I had occasion to sit in on those production meetings that were really budget meetings, during which line items like color, paper, coatings, die-cuts, and binding options were discussed with a sometimes brutal disregard for the needs of the content. Those meetings would make a grown man weak in the knees.
Now that I think about it, that company was owned by the same parent company that owns Abrams, the publisher of this slab of uncompromised delight that I am currently holding in my happy happy hands.
See, some editor at Abrams Appleseed (their new baby and toddler imprint) must have shoved her heels in hard when it came to shepherding Pantone: Colors through its cycle, and would not let anyone go home until everyone agreed with her that it should be produced with the stiffest semi-gloss paper, the most vibrant, most precisely color-matched inks, thick boards that would take a deep pressure stamp, and a superstrong, unbumpable binding. (Although maybe it wasn't that hard. Abrams is generally not shy about committing to premium treatments. I wish they'd be less shy about digital ancillaries, but that's a different subject.)
So now it is as much a pleasure to hold as it is to look at.
And boy is it a pleasure to look at. Each color gets a two-page spread, a grid of colors on the left and a shiny, funky, simple illustration on the right (by Helen Dardik, whose textile designs I adore). Having spent more than my fair share of time fanning out PANTONE color books (at that job and a couple of others), I am terrifically amused that Pantone LLC appears to have demanded the following text:
PANTONE© and other Pantone trademarks are the property of Pantone LLC. PANTONE Colors may not match PANTONE-identified standards. Consult current PANTONE Color Publications for accurate color. Color numbers are provided by Pantone. Color names are provided by Abrams Appleseed and are not associated with the current PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM©.
It's like they are saying "DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES USE THIS BABY BOOK AS A SWATCH BOOK. NO. DON'T TAKE IT TO WORK. YOU! DESIGN NERD WITH THE BABY IN THE SWEDISH STROLLER! YOU CAN'T USE THIS BOOK FOR COLOR REFERENCE!"
As if any design nerd with a baby in a Swedish stroller doesn't have a full set of swatch books in a desk drawer somewhere. Tsk.
But actually, this book could come in handy - kind of like the ice cream scooping skills I perfected 30 years ago. Because color mishaps can occur when all you're looking at are abstract color swatches. I ran a coffee house in Southwest Baltimore for a while, and one weekend we painted it. I picked PANTONE 285 with PANTONE 122 trim, and at the end of the day, one of my co-workers stood back and said, "Hey! It's like we're IKEA coffee!"
A few years prior, I had picked PANTONE 128 and PANTONE 032 as the key colors in an ad campaign only to have the boss say, "What, we're selling McDonald's fries?" So, while the Pantone people may be wary of some smart-aleck designer giving their colors names, if I had had this book at that time I would have noticed that she called PANTONE 032 "Ketchup red" and and PANTONE 128 "Mustard yellow," and I might have avoided much humiliation at the hands of a boss who just looved dishing out humiliation.
This is a board book, and babies will love it because it is bright bright bright and indestructible indestructible indestructible, but older kids will get a kick out of the inventive color names, and that design nerd with the Swedish stroller will need to have it merely because the the processes used in producing this book have resulted in colors that look like you could lick 'em off the page.
Endpaper bonus (haven't done one of these in a while):
There's a purple people eater and a jellyfish inside the back cover. Love!