Designed and produced for Walker Books by the packager Templar, this lavish and voluptuous production combines Ellwand’s ‘floramorphic’ photography with, as he puts it, ‘the marvels of modern computer technology’. The book is presented as a sort of illustrated opera programme, Acts I, II and III told in rhyming couplets through mock Victorian typography with decorative fleurons and patterned borders. This book is certainly a beautiful adornment for the coffee table; whether it works as well as a children’s book is less clear, breaking as it does many of those set-in-stone publishers’ rules. The characters have no facial features, being digital compositions from photographs of flowers. These figures emerge from a black background to twirl and soar and take their bows in a blaze of colour and elegant shapes.
The book perhaps belongs in the same genre as Alan Aldridge’s influential tour de force, Butterfly Ball, the 1960s infatuation with the glossy graphic effects of the airbrush being here replaced by an early 21st-century love affair with computer software. The dust wrapper is printed with a thin haze of gold inks flecked into the stage curtain design, giving the book an unusual but attractive finish.