A set of wordless images invites browsers to wonder and speculate about the natural world.
Beginning and ending with a pair of birds who meet, build a nest, and raise a family, Hegbrook’s finely crafted paintings, placed singly or in groups with ample spacing on a page or spread, portray a wide variety of natural scenes. They depict both plants and animals in action in their likely habitats, over time, and in a wide variety of places. The creatures pictured in this oversized album are recognizable even when exactly what they are doing isn’t clear. (The last pages provide explanations accompanying small reproductions of each spread.) Some images are obvious: a giraffe stretches its neck to reach leaves on a branch and another spreads its legs, leaning over for a drink. More usually the stories depend on prior knowledge: there’s a caterpillar, a chrysalis, and a colorful butterfly. Some turn out to require information the picture can’t convey: an owl appears to catch and then drop a lizard. The endnotes explain, “a fire salamander releases poison from his pores to fend off a predator,” the kind of alarming detail young naturalists appreciate. Small type opposite the title page offers steps for appreciation of this unusual title: observe, inquire, wonder. Twice the author asks, “What do you think?”
A book to return to over a broad range of ages. (Picture book. 3-10)