Drawn from Nature

From the cover's ethereal heron to the stately red fox near the end of the book, the images of animals, insects and plants presented in English artist Helen Ahpornsiri's debut are enchanting. Drawn from Nature creates delicate and detailed pictures of scenes from nature out of "hundreds of leaves and flowers... preserved with traditional flower-pressing methods."

Ahpornsiri's visual delights are enhanced by the book's arrangement, using the year's cycle to introduce seasonal changes in plant growth as well as animal and insect development. Beginning with "The Spring Chorus" and finishing in winter with "Bare Branches" (followed by an author's note and a glossary), the text is an invitation to head outdoors and make direct observations. Children and adults will want to learn, explore and perhaps create their own designs based on this book's text and imagery. Though they do not include explicit directions, the illustrations--such as the "Forest Fungi" double-page spread of a fanciful arrangement of wild mushrooms in different colors and patterns--invite and inspire creative projects based on collecting natural materials. The illustrations are also simply a joy to behold: for example, the nocturnal owl, illustrated in shades of brown and white and depicted on a black background, is absolutely stunning.

While the text is written for an older audience (and will have to be read aloud to younger children), the connections between flora and fauna that develop in the different seasons are explicitly described, providing a framework for children to make their own discoveries. This small book, comfortable to hold and share, is a natural treasure. --Melinda Greenblatt, freelance book reviewer

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