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.

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