When I was a kid I enjoyed reading, but I also enjoyed the illustrations that use to grace books aimed at young readers back then. I'm not talking about the cartoony drawings the fill much of today's tomes. The illustrations I'm talking about could be considered works of art today.
Reading back then had the added pleasure of anticipating the study of the artist's conception of a scene I'd just read, trying to find the details he or she included, or might have missed. The better illustrations had all sorts of little frivolities that made you want to keep looking to see what else you could discover.
As I grew older the books I read contained fewer illustrations, and it was something that I really missed.
I read a lot to my kids when they were wee, and while my amateur dramatizations were well received, they also recall the pictures that made the stories fun. Today, my daughter reads to her son the same way I did to her, and though he's only 2 he seems to enjoy it as much as she did.
Of course, books today are rapidly being replaced by e-Book readers and tablets and often authors and publishers add animated touches and sounds to enhance the reading experience. I guess I'm old school, in many stories I like the illustrations to be static, but as richly drawn as they were in the books I read when I was young.
Many of the stories I read back then are public domain now, meaning that they can be downloaded onto your reader of choice for free. The problem with these free books is that they seldom include the illustrations that use to come with them when they were first published in paper.
While looking around for something to write about this week I was pleased to find at least three examples where the artwork is included with the free books, and that's what I'm going to talk to you about today. So let's get to it.
Illustrated Hans Christian Andersen [2.9MB, All iOS Devices, Publisher: FV Editions]
I don't think there's a 5 year old anywhere in the civilized world who hasn't read or has had read to him or her a story written by Hans Christian Andersen. In fact, Disney has made gajillions on stories written by the Danish author. The Little Mermaid, The Emperor's New Clothes and others were made into movies or were the basis for many of the adventures Mickey Mouse and friends had.
For those who enjoy Mr. Andersen's stories here are four of some of his more noted works, each includes an illustration. You get The Ugly Duckling, The Little Match-Seller, The Silver Shilling, and What The Moon Saw. These are complete stories too, unabridged.
This is a sampler, however, if you want more stories you'll have to pay for them, but what you get for free is worth it.
Another negative is that the illustrations are few and not that good. But, again, it's free, and these are classic stories.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland [11.3MB, all iOS devices, Publisher: BookByte Digital]
Another great author was Lewis Carroll whose most famous work is none other than Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
When I first came across this story the book was filled with wonderful illustrations. The Mad Hatter and the March Hare, The Cheshire Cat, The Queen of Hearts and more were meticulously drawn and added that special sauce to an already great story. If I'm going to read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland I want to read it from a copy of that first book I read.
Carroll's book as published in 1865
But this is the Age of the Tablet and even that book will get overlooked. Unless, of course you make it an e-book as well. That's just what someone did, and it's being offered for free!
This is the full story, the way it was written in the original text. What is even better is that tapping on any of the illustrations enlarges them to full screen so you can study the art up close and personal.
Want more illustrations? Ok!
Additional illustrations included
This book includes an addendum containing samples of other famous illustrations of Carroll's story. You must get this.
Leonardo Da Vinci [15.3MB, all iOS devices, Publisher: TouchInside]
If there was any person in history that I would like to meet it would be Leonardo Da Vinci. Born a bastard to a peasant woman, he became one of the most famous cultural figures of all time. If you know anything about art, science, design, and engineering you'll know about Da Vinci's contribution.
Here is a free biography of the man, and it's full of examples of his work, photos of the places he lived, and much more.
As with most illustrated iBooks, tapping on a photo or illustration brings it forward to full page, and you can examine it however you wish with pinch and zoom gestures. And you'll want to. Leonardo's most famous works are shown including Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, and The Vitruvian Man.
Example of Da Vinci's art
This is not an exhaustive study of Da Vinci, but rather and concise chronology of his life. It's well worth the download.
So, there you have it. Three really good illustrated e-books that are even better because they are free. These are all good, but if I had to pick just one I'd grab Alice's Adventures in Wonderland only because of the extras included with the book.
And that's a wrap for this week. Be sure to grab this week's free App of the Week: Angry Birds: Rio. A must have for Angry Birds fans.