Gift Guide :: Toddler Picture Book Edition

picturebook gift guide via besottedblog

Honestly this picture book gift guide could have been pages longer, but I thought that these books are a great start because they will please both the child and the design inclined parent. They all have wonderful illustrations and charming stories and you will be happy if you have to be the one reading them over and over again. The way it works in my house is that we check books out from the library first, if they get requested to be checked out more than a few times I end up buying them and adding to my daughter’s library.

The Little People, Big Dreams series is focused on women that accomplished great things overcoming obstacles (Amelia Earhart, Maya Angelou, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo…), it’s so important to have strong role models and I suggest this series for both girls and boys. The Fan Brothers are wildly talented in the illustration vein of Edward Gorey, if Gorey was light-hearted and optimistic. I love, love, love all Kyo Maclear’s books, Julia, Child is another fave. The Day I became a Bird is excruciatingly charming both the story and the illustrations. K.G. Campbell’s Mermaid and the Shoe shuns the traditional mermaid stories and is about self discovery and building confidence. Sara O’Leary is a fave, she usually works with illustrator Julie Morstad and together they create new classics, hipster parents around the world will rejoice. Speaking of hipster any Oliver Jeffers book would be welcome on our shelf, you can’t go wrong! Our great friend Sanae Ishida is on her second book and it’s even better than the first (which seems impossible) so make sure to take a peak!




01. Isabel Sanchez: Little People, Big Dreams

02. The Fan Brothers : The Night Gardener

03.Kyo Maclear : Virginia Wolf

04. Ingrid Chabbert : The Day I became a Bird

05. K.G. Campbell : The Mermaid and the Shoe

06. Sara O’Leary : This is Sadie

not shown but we recommend-

Sanae Ishida : Chibi Samarai wants a Pet

Emily Winfield Martin : Dream Animals

Benjamin Chaud : The Bear’s Song

Philip Simon : I Don’t Know What to Call my Cat

Mike Curato : Little Elliot in the Big City

Peter Brown : Mr. Tiger goes Wild

Sara O’Leary : When you Were Small

Jane Yolen : Dinosaur book series

Besotted with The Goldfinch

goldfinch cover via besotted blog

I haven’t come up for air in months and down time is pretty non-existent these days which makes the concept of picking up The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, a 784 tome, almost laughable to even consider, but consider I did and then I dove in. I am going to be honest here I only decided to read it because of the cover, I know it had an ‘it book’ cache and even a Pulitzer, but what really made me decide to crack it open? The cover. Seriously, I am still in awe how the cover is so simpatico with the story. I am always in awe when this happens, which of course is the art directors doing, but still feels like some sort of happy design coincidence. This cover was the genius of Keith Hayes, a sort of book cover savant, I’ll link to an interview below, because I find the process endlessly interesting. How was the book? It was heavy, Tartt’s writing is incredibly rich with descriptives, if you like that you will be in literary bliss. It dealt heavily (in gruesome detail) with a subject that I have no stomach for but by the time I had hit that spot, I was already too deep to not keep reading, but the cover? The cover for me will stay with me, it’s truly a masterpiece, simple and intriguing.

Have you read The Goldfinch? What were your thoughts? Did you buy it for the cover too? Any good reads of late?  I am going to be in need of another book now!


The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Keith Hayes Art Director Interview

Goldfinch without cover (LOVE!)


What to read after Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children


When Michelle and I first started writing our novel I only read non-fiction. I hadn’t read a fiction book in years, make that decades. My favorite books were non-fiction books that felt like novels, but I was always up for a good biography. I knew from my past experience with writing that the one way to become a better writer is to read–a lot. I also wanted to read in the genre we were writing and for the market we were targeting, to tell you the truth we still aren’t exactly sure who our market is, but I went with what I thought it was and delved into that category. We both felt that our book would most likely fit next to Ransom Riggs ‘Miss Peregrine’, (his series) so I read books that had that ‘feel’ in some ways.  I really wanted to share this list with you because there are a ton of gems in here. In the last year I have read a lot of books. This is not all of them but a chunk. Most if not all of the books were read on my Kindle which I checked out via my local library for free which is a service I am completely and utterly addicted to. It is very simple to sign-up with your local library and well worth the small effort it takes to get yourself set-up especially if you are as voracious a reader as I am!Read More

Books to inspire adventure!


Does it seem to anyone else like half of Instagram spent October traveling to exotic locales? I must admit to being a teeny bit envious, but do love living vicariously through their beautiful photo streams! In addition the flood of travel images in my Instagram stream, Tristan and I are working on editing photographs (for a very special client) filled with majestic Kenyan elephant herds, lions lazing about in savanna grasses, and intently grazing zebras. Gazing at these awe-inspiring animals from half a world away certainly sparks the imagination! While I’d love to hop on a plane tomorrow to go sip a cafe au lait in Paris or photograph an elephant in Kenya, the chances of that are slim (but not impossible – nothing’s impossible right?), so I’ve been devouring books that can take me around the world without having to pack a bag…


The Little Paris Bookshop

A man who’s closed himself off to the world faces his fears and begins to live again. Recommended to me by our friend Sanae, this is an easy, pleasant read with boats and books and a main character you can root for.


Circling the Sun

Literary fiction chronicling the extraordinary life of Beryl Markham. This is a polymath story to sink your teeth into! I was so enamoured with this book, Tristan received a play-by-play on an almost daily basis. Perhaps I should have asked her if she wanted to read it before giving everything away….

West with the Night

Since I was smitten with Beryl Markham’s story, I dove into her autobiography. Given all of her other accomplishments, I was floored by her writing talents, an opinion shared by none other than Mr. Ernest Hemingway (!).



A folk tale that takes place in a remote recovery center for disabled children may not sound like a trip you’d like to take, but the pure imagination and fluid writing style make the journey more than worthwhile!

Time Travel

The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster

A mystery that requires time travel to solve it sounds pretty fantastical, and it is, but the characters feel real, as does the imagery. The story won’t give you a toothache, but it’s a quick read I felt was a treat!

P.S. To get a taste for Ms. Markham this podcast will get you itching to learn more!

Author / Miss Michelle P.

Miss Michelle P. is a photographer, and the co-creator of Foto Rx Premium Photoshop Actions. She lives in the Pacific Northwest. Her muse is light.


Deep Dark Fears by Fran Krause

Deep dark fears by fran krause via besotted blog

Michelle and I visited a real live bookstore recently (yes, as rare as a Yeti spotting), at the store they had a wall of staff recommended reads and one cover stood out for us. It was a beautifully bound black book with a foil embossed scrawl that read- ‘Deep Dark Fears’ by Fran Krause. We didn’t know what to expect but within minutes both Michelle and I were guffawing out loud (we think you will too).  Illustrator Fran Krause asked people to submit their deep, dark (and very real to them) fears. She then illustrated them comic style. I think the thing with fears, is keeping them to yourself they feel very real and scary but saying them out loud to others that may have fears as deep and dark as your own (or more so) could actually lighten that load you have been carrying. I told Michelle one of my fears and she actually spit out her water, it is pretty ridiculous and I wish I could share with you but I am still a little afraid of it (and yes, it is water spitting absurd). If you have a chance we highly recommend checking this book out, it’ll make you feel sane amongst your crazy thoughts and who doesn’t want to feel a bit ‘normal’ sometimes?


Deep Dark Fears by Fran Krause

Book review

P.S. Michelle and I have finally come to a decision on our focus. We aren’t ready to announce it quite yet, but it was one of those things where it was right in front of our faces this whole time, like my grandmother use to say, ‘Girl, if it was a snake it would have bit you.’

Miss Tristan B. is the co-creator of the world’s best + easiest product photography editing tool-Foto Rx | Shopkeeper’s Helper and the fastest way to clean + digitize your lettering and line art –Lettering Rx | Paper to pixel and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.