The Latest Penguin Masterpieces

I follow the Penguin Publishers tribe of deliciously-bound books – and when a new one is released, I get a little bit giddy. Can you really blame me?

We’ve already marveled over the Coralie Bickford-Smith clothbound covers, the 75 year special releases, and I think these new ones will sell particularly well with the current resurgence in needlecraft, knitting and tea-drinking… introducing the three Penguin Threads books: Emma, by Jane Austen; The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett; and Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell.

Aren’t they choke-on-your-biscuit breathtaking?


Jillian Tamaki is the avant garde genius behind these incredibly clever, intricate, masterful artworks.

While we can only dream of coveting actual embroidered books, which Jillian Tamaki herself is cynical about: “I’m not really sure how that would be possible without making the final product exorbitantly expensive”, they will, she says, be “tactile objects”. Displaying a special embossed surface, these literary wonders will mirror the feel of actual embroidery.

My fingers are itching.

Despite being new to the embroidery artworld, which she says she has taken up in an “enthusiastic yet clumsy way”, Jillian Tamaki as an illustrator and author has been anything but an overnight sensation. She has two books published: Gilded Lilies and Indoor Voice, and a graphic novel called Skim. If you’d like to learn more about her, she has a personal blog which I enjoy reading, as well as a professional illustration portfolio.

Do you have a favourite from the three? I don’t like to choose, but…I am in complete awe of the Black Beauty cover. I’ve reserved a special stand for it already on my bookshelf.

You may notice that Jillian Tamaki has been commissioned by Penguin US, and they’ll be released there in October later this year. No definitive word about when/if they’ll be released in Australia (hopefully at the same time?) but I will personally head the petition if there’s any questioning of their potential in the Australian market.

It’s times like these I feel proud of publishers refusing to completely give in to the e-book phenomenon. E-books certainly have their place, like the convenience of takeaway food, but when you want to dine gourmet…

Cheers to Penguin for keeping the book love alive.

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Aimee Burton

Aimee Burton is a lawyer-in-training who still dreams of befriending unicorns. This blog will be her escape from reality, and hopefully it'll inspire her to finish writing that fantasy trilogy she's always promising her friends is "almost halfway" done.