Collins, whose Flora Forager brand has yielded adult books and a large Instagram following, presents her first children’s title.
Utilizing petals, seeds, foliage, and other botanical bits, Collins constructs an animal abecedary from angelfish to zebra. After a four-line introduction, the text consists of the animals’ names with their initial upper- and lowercase letters printed large in the upper corners of the pages. The author cleverly exploits her materials’ textures, shapes, and color gradations in compositions arranged against pastel backgrounds. The yak’s petal-filled amber coat is appropriately shaggy, and the succulents used to create the elephant endow it with a rounded (albeit greenish) form. Some of the most charming depictions are of animal groups. Illustrating “Quail,” a parent and three chicks sport pansy-petal faces and fiddlehead topknots as they file past an assemblage of pale green hellebore blooms, ferns, and ivy. Compositions are not evenly successful, however. For “Giraffe” and “Turtle,” Collins snips petals and blooms to approximate the angular patterns of their respective hide and shell; these look less integrated than other depictions, such as “Zebra.” There’s no correspondence in size among the animals, and two fanciful creatures (“Dragon” and “Unicorn”) are included. While “I” is for a generic “Insect” (evidently a type of beetle), ever pesky “X” is for “Xerus inaurus (Cape ground squirrel).”
Despite unevenness in the total package, many families will doubtless be smitten with Collins’ intricate tableaux—and perhaps be inspired to forage and create their own compositions. (Picture book. 3-8)