I decided it was a sign, and I painted a large lavender sketchbook with my acrylic paints. Victoria likes when I tell her my tales from Japan, so I made that the theme.
Here's the progression...
Added Mount Fuji:
Not only did we have the pleasure of waking up to a far-off silhouette of Fuji when we lived in Tokyo, but we rode past its base on a bullet train to Kyoto.
Added a cherry blossom branch and a red lantern:
The cherry blossoms (Sakura) blooming in Japan signal the arrival of Spring.
There are red lanterns everywhere, at least in Tokyo. At night, they emit such a pretty glow.
Add the blossoms, a koi pond, and Victoria's name to personalize it:
The Japanese take much pride in their rock gardens and nature gardens.
Their koi ponds can be so beautifully elaborate!
And Voila! I added details to all the pieces. I think the composition flows rather nicely, and I hope my little sister enjoys her birthday present.
TIP: Considering personalizing a gift like this for someone?
I recommend using acrylic-based paint (not oil) so it dries faster and won't smudge.
Also, try to keep the paint in thin layers. Thicker layers run the risk of peeling off if the person stores the book in a bag or backpack.