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A First Book of Nature

by Nicola Davies & illustrated by Mark Hearld

Age Range: 3 - 12

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7636-5549-5
Publisher: Candlewick

Lyrically textured and illustrated glimpses of the natural world.

In this sweeping, comprehensive look outdoors, zoologist and noted children’s author Davies (Poop: A Natural History of the Unmentionable, 2011, etc.) here joins forces with the illustrative talents of British artist Hearld, a kindred spirit when it comes to drawing artistic inspiration from nature. Following the progression of the seasons, these poems and their accompanying eye-popping spreads capture the essence of common animals, plants and phenomena in ways sure to entice young readers to venture outside. Hearld’s powerful multimedia illustrations layer paper-cut animals and diverse flora with vibrant swathes of watercolor, ink and crayon, creating dynamic scenes to which children can readily relate, while Davies’ spare lyrics ground complex processes like the life cycles of frogs and dandelions and the formation of rainbows with relative clarity. Some broader scenes encourage children to explore with all their senses and prove especially evocative, as in this moving image of what can happen during a snow-filled winter’s night: “In the morning, you’ll find the snow has kept a diary / of things that happened when you were asleep. / The animals and birds who ran about the garden / have left a snowy record of their feet.”

Over 50 poems, lustrous illustrations, a couple simple recipes and some advice for saving seeds combine to lend enough nature-related food for thought for many a sitting. (Picture book/poetry. 3-12)