Two long time collaborators from opposite sides of the world tell a curious tale about a wandering bean.
Despite living on opposite sides of the world, author Ann Bevans and artist Matthew Ethan Gray have been collaborating for a long time. The former is a pizza-loving gym junkie from Maryland, USA. The latter a photographer and filmmaker from Brisbane, Australia. The duo have big plans for their Bean series, which already numbers five. The plan is to release another book every month moving forward, which shows serious commitment. Bean Takes a Walk is the first book in the series, and a great introduction.
Bean Takes a Walk Review
I was impressed by this book as soon as I saw the cover. Its vibrant art style with its parallax, depth-of-field effect is quite eye-catching. But more than that, it instantly feels like a brand. You don’t have to be told that there are a lot of Bean books to know they exist. The little logo in the top right corner speaks to that being a plan. The structure, layout and marketing opportunity here is well thought out and it sets a great example for other indies of what you should do with your series.
But it talks to more than just professionalism: it’s important to readers, too. It creates the impression that you’re investing in something more than just the one book. And that your child, and you as the reader, have more to look forward to in the future.
For Bean Takes a Walk, the series’ legacy begins with a minimalistic, but cute tale. Bean is literally an anthropomorphic bean, with a radish for a mother and lettuce for a friend. He decides one day to go for a walk, packing his bag with all the essentials. Comic, car and yo-yo – check, check, check!
Shortly after he is given a quest to cross the Wildflower Garden in order to find some tea. He is given a special stone to trade with a potato for the tea. As we follow Bean’s athletic trip, hopping over the obstacles that gets in his way, we see the contents of his bag slowly drop out. Will he be able to find them all come the book’s end? You’ll have to read it to find out, of course. While simply told so as to appeal to broad range of ages, that doesn’t come some at the cost of engagement. The relatable story and quirky characters will capture your child’s imagination.
Bean Takes a Walk Design
Bean Takes a Walk reminds me of the Mr. Men series in the best of ways. Square in shape, a page of text sits alongside an image in a mould similar to that classic collection of books. The amount of text per page feels similar to Mr. Men, too, and even the writing style has a similar vein of zaniness running through it. As mentioned before, I really like the art style. It has almost an Adventure Time quirkiness to it, but a glossy, polished feel. The use of colour is exceptional and I like the little paint-splash border around each image.
I did feel a few times that the design missed a trick or two that could offered more to readers. By using a paragraph style with left and right justified text, words are often and unnecessarily squeezed together. This makes it harder to read than it had to be.
On other occasions supplementary images could have helped connect the child to the story more. For example, when Bean packs his bag for his walk, we don’t get to see the items he places inside at first. My son, for example, wanted to know what the “number three race car” looked like. So a couple of smaller images round the text could have created this connection to each item early. Also, there is no image or text to join the dots between the final item falling from the bag, and Bean’s destination.
These issues are minor though, and shouldn’t put anyone off reading Bean’s first adventure. Bevans and Gray have crafted a simple, but highly imaginative little world filled with interesting characters. Plus, they have created a brand with clear potential. I look forward to reading more from this series.
Where to Next?
Are you looking for more great children’s books? Then visit the Old Mate Media library. If you're an author or illustrator looking to make their own children’s book, then visit our services in the main menu, or read our step-by-step guide. For authors and illustrators already published who would like to have their book reviewed, then head here to learn more.