A British import exhorts readers to observe the natural world outside.
Unusually lengthy for a nonfiction picture book, this lavishly produced hardbound volume contains 80 pages of illustrations and similarly atypical high-level text. The book is divided into four seasons, each containing an introductory spread with a paragraph describing typical weather and outdoor activities for the time of year in the English countryside. Subsequent spreads describe animals, plants, and activities in different locales: the “veg garden,” the woods, the farm, the fields, the pond, the orchard, and finally, the street. The stylized illustrations in flat colors portray animals and plants, some realistic, some generic, either as vignettes or in broad, flat, color landscapes. Captions in a hard-to-read cursive describe the objects and activities and are sometimes placed far from the object described, making it difficult to connect the two. The nature cycle and many species are very specific to the U.K., and although the text has been more or less Americanized, the book doesn’t begin to address North American conditions and how the different climatic zones create varying patterns and cycles. While a determined teacher could use the format as a model with North American students, it hardly seems worth the effort.
It’s pretty, but it misses the mark on this side of the Atlantic. (Informational picture book. 5-8)