The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys Book Design

Client HarperCollins Publishers/Envy Design

Format 160 x 120 mm, hardback

Skills Quark Xpress, Photoshop, Illustrator

Written by Conn and Hal Iggulden, the original The Dangerous Book for Boys was a bestseller. The design was based on classic ‘boys’ annuals/magazines, such as The Boys Own. It included activities like building tree houses, etc., and stories, battles and other useful facts. It made for a good Christmas/Father’s Day present – I even got my dad a copy.

The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys book design. Example of a page spread from the 'Facts, Figures and Fun' title. This spread shows a chapter opener for the 'Famous Remarks' chapter and features a full bleed image of Winston Churchill on the righthand page, with the chapter title on a green background. The left hand page features a selection of quotes from famous people.

The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys book design. Example of a page spread from the 'Facts, Figures and Fun' title. This spread shows a chapter opener for the 'Inventors' chapter and features a half page illustration of a crazy flying machine invention on the righthand page, with the chapter title on a light blue background. The left hand page features a entries about other famous inventors and includes a black and white photograph of the inventor Frank Whittle, inventor of the jet engine.

The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys book design. Example of a page spread from the 'Facts, Figures and Fun' title. This spread shows a chapter opener for the 'Assasinations' chapter and features a half page illustration of an attempted assasination on a train on the righthand page. The chapter title is on a pale gren background. The left hand page features a entries about other famous assasinations and includes a black and white photograph of the inventor JFK on that fatal day in Dallas.
The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys book design. Example of a page spread from the 'Things to Do' title. The spread shows two illustrations of maps depicting the changing face of Britain during its history. The lefthand page shows a map of Roman Britain, with annotations. The righthand page shows a map of the English Conquest of Britain, with annotations.

The brief: The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys series

Envy Design outsourced the design work to me. HaperCollins wanted to create a spin-off series of pocket sized books based on the Dangerous Book. The brief was to reformat the existing design into the new series format of 160 x 120 mm. This complimented the look of the of the original book and also introduced new design elements.

The design: The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys series

I based the design and layout on the retro Boy’s Own look of the original book. The new pocket sized design matched the original font styles for the body text, titles and folios. A simple one column for the text worked best for the new format. The layout is clean and simple, and featured retro style illustrations and photographs.

I worked on three books in the series – Things To Do, Wonders Of The World and Facts, Figures & Fun. Each of the three books reused material from the original Dangerous Book, along with new text and images.

Things To Do and Wonders Of The World included more step-by-step illustrations – I needed to make sure they worked within the text. Facts, Figures & Fun used a more straightforward layout – each entry flowed on and was broken up by the odd photograph or illustration.

The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys was a fun series to work on.