It’s amazing what a pair of googly eyes and a smile can do. In her new Drawn & Quarterly children’s book, The Mushroom Fan Club, Elise Gravel turns fungi into adorable critters by giving the mushrooms facial expressions that create different personalities. Gravel’s book is an informative guide intended to inspire kids to pay more attention to their surroundings and explore the wonders of the natural world, and her playful approach makes for a warm, charming read. Her writing is casual while still descriptive, and her artwork captures the excitement and joy she feels when she goes on mushroom hunts with her daughters.
This exclusive preview of The Mushroom Fan Club—on sale this week—introduces readers to the basics of mushroom education, and the opening two-page illustrations set the tone with a shot of Gravel’s daughters entering a forest followed by a of a throng of cute mushrooms staring directly at the reader. Gravel’s 2017 sketchbook, If Found…Please Return To Elise Gravel, is a delightful call to action that seeks to stimulate the imagination of its readers, and The Mushroom Fan Club has a similarly interactive quality. Even if kids aren’t in an area conducive to mushroom hunting, they can interact with the book by replicating Gravel’s drawings, which are built around basic geometric shapes and rendered with felt tip markers. There’s a welcoming simplicity to her work, but images like that first illustration of the forest also showcase her skill with denser, more immersive visuals, and she creates a sea of distinct textures and shapes while maintaining a youthful, minimalist aesthetic.