Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘Maira Kalman’

14 OCTOBER, 2010

And The Pursuit of Happiness: Maira Kalman Illustrates Democracy


Yes, we love Maira Kalman. Last year, the iconic illustrator published a wonderful and quirky illustrated 12-part meditation on democracy in her New York Times blog and today, the series is released as an equally wonderful illustrated book.

And the Pursuit of Happiness begins with Barack Obama’s inauguration on Chapter One, with each subsequent chapter representing a month in Kalman’s yearlong quest to explore the underpinnings of contemporary democracy.

In February, she travels to both costs, so the respective chapter is dedicated to Abraham Lincoln. In March, she goes to an actual town meeting, the quintessential haven of democracy. In April, she visits the Supreme Court and the office of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which prompts a rumination on women breaking social barriers. For December, she concludes with a chapter on George Washington and a thoughtful reflection on happiness itself.

Brimming with Kalman’s childlike aesthetic, delightfully kooky typography and subtle wordplay, And the Pursuit of Happiness takes you on a playful yet philosophical journey into the human side of politics and democracy — a genuine treat for eye, mind and heart.

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22 SEPTEMBER, 2010

13 Words: Lemony Snicket + Maira Kalman


A despondent dog, a busy bird, and what iconic illustration has to do with the iPad.

We love iconic illustrator Maira Kalman and have a soft spot for the writings of Daniel Handler, better-known under his legal pen name, Lemony Snicket. Not to mention we’re all over a good trailer for a book. Naturally, we’re head over heels with 13 Words, the new book by Lemony Snicket with an illustrated trailer by Maira Kalman, who also illustrated the book itself.

13 Words is essentially a word book, but it’s no ordinary wordbook. Like those brilliantly reimagined alphabet books we featured some time ago, Snicket’s latest gem takes a children’s literature staple, simultaneously honoring it and flipping it on its head.

Snicket curates 13 of the most essential words of all time — OK, we know you’re dying to know: Bird, Despondent, Cake, Dog, Busy, Convertible, Goat, Hat, Haberdashery, Scarlet, Baby, Panache and Mezzo-Soprano — and pairs each with original illustrations in Kalman’s signature simple-loveliness style.

Quirky and irreverent, the book is as much an educational tool for kids as it is a work of cross-disciplinary art for grown-ups. But to take it one step further, we’d actually love to see it as an iPad app that really brings Kalman’s wonderful artwork to life at the fingertips of today’s digital-swazi kids.

13 Words is officially out on October 5, but is available for pre-order this week. And we have one word for it: Unungettable.

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