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Color ME Christmas

By Mary Engelbreit

Reviewed by Alexandra Heep

· Holiday,Christmas Theme

Mary Engelbreit’s Color ME Christmas, published by Harper Collins, features 48 pages of charming Christmas, holiday and winter images. Mary Engelbreit is a renowned New York Times bestselling illustrator of classics like Mary Engelbreit’s Nutcracker and the Night Before Christmas. Her style is whimsical but mature enough to appeal to the young in age and the young at heart alike.

The designs are single-sided, and the book has a total of 96 pages. It’s a little over 1/8 inch thick. The pages are nicely perforated and remove easily (unlike some other books where pages rip, even when perforated). The designs stop well before the perforated part so you won't have to color near the spine, should you leave the pages in the book. Most of them (35) are portrait-oriented but some (13) are landscape-oriented.

The book is glue bound with heavy-weight paper that is nice and smooth and lends itself to easy blending, shading, and coverage. I’ve used colored pencils, gel pens, brush markers and glitter markers on it with equally good results. I remove my pages before I color them but if you choose not to, I would still put a sheet of paper behind the page you’re coloring. I recommend that for all coloring books.

A lot of the designs allow for creating your own background (or you can omit it) while others have a background for you to color, and 21 one of the images include joyful messages, words and phrases. These include Believe, Merry Christmas, and Peace. You get a variety of Christmas trees, Santas (from traditional to playful), angels, snowmen, reindeer, a gingerbread house, penguins and lots of cute elves. Even mice and bunnies make an appearance, cavorting in the snow.

While most of the designs embody whimsical yuletide cheer, you also get some of the more traditional images. These include a wonderful drawing of Joseph and Mary with baby Jesus, a peaceful lion and lamb picture, and depictions of angels as harbingers of peace on earth.

In regards to details, you get a nice variety, but none of the illustrations have tiny or even what I would consider small spaces. Some of them you can even color with bulkier markers. You could even use crayons. Anyone without major vision issues should be able to complete the book easily. I color with 20/1000 vision and manage just fine.

Some of the designs can be completed in an hour or so (I am a slow colorist), some might take a couple of days, depending on how elaborate you want to be (if you want to add details or a background) and how much time you spend a day on coloring. I would estimate that the majority of designs would probably take only a couple of hours to complete.

This is one of the best Christmas-themed coloring books I have seen because of the variety of designs and its appeal to colorists of different skill levels. I can see this adult coloring book become a family favorite during snow days when kids are bored and want to do something with their parents. Since the pages remove effortlessly and the book has some easier designs too, everyone in the family can enjoy it.

Below are some pictures that I've colored from this book.

I couldn't resist coloring this design for my first picture from this book because it reminds me of old German Christmas ornaments. I used Martha Stewart glitter markers for the larger areas and gel pens for the smaller ones..

Instead of traditional blue, red and green, I decided to go with a patriotic red, white and blue for this design. I used FC Polychromos and Prismacolor Premier pencils for the snowy areas, and brush markers for the red and blue accents. For the white, I used a white Uniball Signo pen. The first picture was scanned, the second was taken with a cellphone.

I completed this picture for a starry night challenge. I created the dark sky by using many layers of blue, indigo and black colored pencils (FC Polychromos and Prismacolor Premier for the blues, Marco Raffine for the black). Yes, I mix and match oil and water-based pencils. The stars were done with gold and white gel pens.

For the coat, I started with a layer of purple Solabela pencil and finished with purple brush marker. The flowers were colored with just pencils. For the tree, I colored the outline with green pencil, used a white Sharpie to fill in the areas, and finished with Gelly Roll silver stardust gel pen.

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