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November 22, 2023

Reworking Existing Iconic Children’s Book

The Boy and the Taniwha 

Scanned, retouched, design, print, and binding.

This reworked book design was exhibited at the Bodleian Library at the Oxford University, United Kingdom, and is catalogued in the feature publication Heroic Works, for the Designer Bookbinders International Competition 2017, edited by Jeanette Koch.

Being members of the International Designer Bookbinders, there are opportunities to expose our craft to members around the world. The Boy and the Taniwha is a redesigned cover that offers a handcrafted approach using high quality print paper, possum leather for covers, and with an exposed stitched spine. The use of possum leather as a feature of the work showcased the materials available in New Zealand. Unlike where they originate from, the common Brushtail Possum is a pest in this country. There are no predators to control their numbers, which are enormous, and being omnivorous and voracious, they strip the environment they inhabit. However, some uses have been found from their carcass, such as this leather.

The Boy and the Taniwha was written by R L Bacon and Illustrated by Para Matchitt, and published in 1966. In the redesigned, we elevating the illustrations to a stronger position in the publication, placing text on left hand pages throughout. Thus, the illustrations can be fully appreciated without text running over them, as was the case in the original 1966 edition.

The new cover design uses 3 coloured possum leather hides, with the main Taniwha image printed on the middle strip: Red, Yellow, and Blue dyed leather. The gallery shows the possum leather strips pasted to the book boards for the front cover. The hand stitched spine reveals the thread and sections that make up the internal pages, along with the half title page (with the title) and the original 1966 cover and first page.