Alma is an adventure novel written by Judit Berg, children's book author, with the assistance of Judit Polgár, greatest woman chess player of all time. Their goal was to create an interesting adventure book, where the main characters find themselves in a chess-world. During their journey, they face situations and problems, which are connected to chess, where the key lies in the rules of the game. Dramatic turns of events can be very similar to chess matches. Clever solutions and big sacrefices must be made, and the kids realize that the virtues of a chess player are essential in real life aswell.
At a certain point of the story, the main character, Alma, confronts the king of the dark empire in a battle. This is a very special part of the book, which adapts a real chess game, played between Judit Polgár and Viswanathan Anand, in 1998, which ended with the victory of Judit. The book contains chess puzzles and explanations, real chess situations, all fit in the storyline, and the novel itself is an exciting tale, so it's enjoyable for players, and non players aswell.
My task was to create a unique visual appearance for this project. The location is a fictional world, similar to the feudal kingdoms, but the main characters are from the modern era. I wanted to make a technically traditional, yet modern look with the illustrations, and I chose a classical spread layout.
Author Judit Berg
With the assistance of Judit Polgár
Illustration and editorial by Barbara Bernát
Publisher Ecovit kiadó
For the body text I chose Calendas Plus. Calendas is a typeface with a classical air, great legibility and elegance, designed for work in small sizes. Its special characteristics derive from its calligraphic finishing. It's also appropriate for titles, as for the body.
Each chapter starts with a small illustration, which reflects on the actual story. Chess elements and medieval motives can also be found amongst them. They are drawn with ink.
The book also contains chess puzzles, which can be solved by the reader. They are also connected to the story flow, so the chess boards are integrated in the text. The chess pictograms were designed especially for this book, from simple shapes, suitable for small size.
chess pictogram design
The original illustrations are 150% of the final book size, so the prints can contain more detail. All of them are made with a special technique, which I experimented especially for this book. It is similar to scratchboard illustrations. With ink, I can draw the black lines, and with the scratching tool, I can draw the negative lines, and correct the black ones. I thought this positive-negative approach would perfectly express the essence of chess game itself. That's why I chose black&white drawings. The book contains 16 full page illustrations, and seven small end-of-chapter illustrations.