Charley Harper Lives

The late, great Cincinnati artist Charley Harper lives on this month via a new coloring book, the aptly titled Charley Harper Coloring Book of Birds.

Ammo Books — a crafty, discerning California-based publisher that previously put out the authoritative Harper tome, Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life — sent me a copy this week, and I can confirm that it's a unique (and challenging, given Harper's sharp-angled style) gift option for the coloring-crazy nephew on your Christmas list. —- (I hope you're not reading this, Jack Gargano.)

The 64-page book features illustrations from Harper's 1974 classic, Birds and Words, which still has a cherished spot on my bookshelf next to other vintage stuff from my book-infested childhood: The Giant Golden Book of Biology, myriad Dr. Seuss books, The Boxcar Children, Where the Wild Things Are, The Giving Tree, various Babar books, multiple Frog and Toad stories, Richard Scary's Busy, Busy Town, multifarious Curious George adventures, several Berenstain Bears books and many, many more.

Oh, and don't forget The Monster at the End of this Book, which featured Grover from Sesame Street in various states of duress and which scared the shit out of me when I first read it.

And for those not familiar with Harper's artistic legacy, here's a cover story we did a few years back on the occasion of an exhibition at the CAC that included much of his work.