Monday, December 3, 2012

Books for Christmas #2 A First Book of Nature

When you first see A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies (Walker Books) you might think it is an old-fashioned nature book, and you might be right, but as you pick it up and feel its heft and note that it's no slim picture book but a large and well-made thing, then open the cover to reveal the gloriously patterned endpapers, taking a peek under the dust-jacket to see the hardcover bears a different illustration to the dust (something that always encourages me to take better care of the coverings, and the feeling that I've witnessed a secret that others might not think to find).
Within are poems, long and short and well informed by the biologist-author's thorough knowledge of the 'simple loveliness that is everywhere, if only we can look'. It is English so some creatures are found here that won't be seen in New Zealand. I do love poetry myself and find that, given the chance children will enjoy it too, and appreciate having something brief which can create big pictures in the mind and feelings to dwell on.
It was the illustrations that drew me to this book in the first place, led to artist Mark Hearld by his association with one of my favourite artists Angie Lewin and St Judes, the business she runs with her husband. I'd seen this great video about Mark and his work on their website and heard that he was illustrating a picture book. His collages are crafted from his own illustrated paintings and I never cease discovering things in the pages that I hadn't noticed before. Glorious patterns, lovely characters and creatures in all their mottled and colourful variety.
A treasure for young and old.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Books for Christmas #1 Princess Betony and the Unicorn

Princess Betony and the Unicorn by Pamela Freeman, illustrated by Tamsin Ainslie (Walker Books)  This is a teeny book that appeals to the little girl in me who also loves dollhouses, Sylvanian Families, The Borrowers and other such things, and with delicate illustrations and all things magical it's a little treasure that I'd want to hide away in a pocket to be enjoyed in any spare moment. The chimes in the book trailer are the perfect sound effect you hear in your head when you open the pages. As soon as I read the first few pages set in a library I was hooked!
It's priced at NZ$20, which might seem a bit much for a tiny book but it's hardcovered with a dust jacket and thus destined for a long life. 6-9.