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Ronald Smith
Author, Illustrator
In Search of the Vintage Tiles of Catalina Island
R. D. Smith , author
This book is an interactive companion with your smartphone to tour the Island, though you do not need a smartphone to complete your quest. QR Codes are provided to access maps, additional photos, and audio. More than a primer on the Vintage Tiles, you get a close insight to the history of this amazing Island. If you complete your quest, you will have explored the majority of Catalina Island and learned its history.
Screenwriter Smith promises readers that “the affair with color that one experiences on the Island not only stimulates the eyes but can inspire the soul” in this passionate celebration of and guide to Catalina Island’s vintage tiles. During one of his first opportunities to travel at age 17, Smith was enchanted by the island’s allure—an attraction that stayed with him over the years, eventually serving as the impetus for this interactive guide. The vintage tiles spread throughout the island are his muse, and he gives readers an in-depth look into the island’s history alongside first-hand accounts of where readers can see the tiles in person, accompanied by QR codes that offer access to maps.

Smith fashions this unusual guide with an eye for adventure: he urges readers to undertake the “quests” he’s constructed throughout the book, including special tiles to spot on each of his customized area tours, and scatters interactive elements across the pages, QR codes for extra photographs, and more. The curious will find plenty to learn—Smith delves into the materials that went into making the island’s tiles, shares interesting construction details (the island’s casino “to this day is the largest circular ballroom in the world”), and even describes his culinary encounters—including a recap of local “secret creation” lobster mac ‘n’ cheese heaped with “a full cup and a half of lobster.”

History buffs will be intrigued by Smith’s attention to detail—local legend insists the island’s original owner, William Wrigley, Jr., and contractor D.M. Renton discovered the clay for the tiles after getting their vehicle stuck in the mud, leading to the quarry of clay deposits on the island to manufacture the Spanish Revival-style tiles that have graced Catalina’s public spaces since the 1920s. Smith’s fervor for the island is contagious and will leave readers eager to discover its beauty for themselves.

Takeaway: Interactive and entertaining guide to Catalina Island’s vintage tiles.

Comparable Titles: Dan Austin’s Your Complete Guide to the Pottery of Catalina Island, Joe Belanger’s Catalina Island: All You Need to Know.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A-