Review: Black and White

Originally published in 1963, Dahlov Ipcar’s Black and White has now found a new home with Flying Eye Books.

Black and White is a tale of wonder and imagination, following two dogs, one black and one white, as they share dreams and friendship together.

Two little dogs frolic and dream of adventures beyond their wildest imaginations, from jungles of the Congo with towering ebony elephants to the whitewashed, frigid arctic where the icy white polar bears roam.

Black and White was originally published at the height of the civil rights movement and promoted equality at a time of political unrest. Its re-release comes at a less turbulent time but it’s heartfelt messages of equality, friendship and the freedom to dream are still as poignant as ever.

And it’s not just the moral of the story which hasn’t dampened over time. Despite being over 50 years old, the books aesthetic is as fresh as ever. This is in part down the Nobrow team’s painstaking efforts to bring this classic back to life, a task which they threw themselves into in order to restore it to its original glory.

Of course, there would be nothing worth restoring if it wasn’t for the Dahlov Ipcar’s classic style. Timeless and full of wonder, her illustrations use raw textures, fluid shapes and some of the inkiest lines you have ever seen to bring a cast of not-so-colourful characters to life. From the frolicking dogs to the roaming elephants which they dream of, each is as majestic as it is monochrome.

Some may ask why Nobrow have chosen to re-release an old book instead of dipping into the huge pool of new creative talent. However, one flick through the book’s pages and you can see how it’s re-release would be irresistible to any publisher. Its stunning colour scheme goes a long way towards this.

Its use of golden yellows, moss greens, pastel pinks and turquoise blues contrast beautifully with the prominent black and white and give the book a contemporary feel.

So much so that when picking up a copy there is no way you could tell it is over half a century old and this is a testament to the work of the team at Nobrow.

Black and White does what all good children’s books do in the way it encourages creativity. It teaches children to be curious of the wondrous natural world around them and how to harness their own imagination and release their inner creative. The book may even encourage children to start their own dream journal and who know what they might discover!

Overall, Flying Eye Books have done more than just remaster this classic. They have re-energised it and prepared it to reignite the imaginations of it’s original audience as they get to pass it on to a new generation.


Posted on Jan 30th, 15 by

Greg McIndoe - also known as Headless Greg - is an illustrator and design writer based in Glasgow, Scotland. He regularly writes for design magazines and online platforms, interviewing fellow illustrators and leading creatives.

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