Friday, May 4, 2012

Outside my window: A first book of nature by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Mark Hearld

I am reviewing another poetry book! Shocking, isn't it? But this book is so amazing, I just had to review - and have it for our library. Although I put it in picture books, so it won't die a painful death in the 811s. There are more than enough dusty books back there as it is, thank you previous librarian or whoever it was that bought them.

First of all, this book is very...structurally satisfying. Forget ebooks on their dinky little screens, this book has heft. It's a nice, thick, weighty square with heavy cardstock pages. It makes me feel like picking up a ream of scrapbooking paper and flipping through it.

The reader is immediately greeted with a flock of birds and a "this book belongs to       " spread, making this a good present. Then we have a close-up of one of the birds on the title page and then a plunge into color on the table of contents. The poems are divided into seasons, spring, summer, autumn, and winter with 12-18 poems per section. Each season has a brief introduction and then, into the poems! All the poems include some kind of information about a natural phenomena or creature. There is a variety of styles and formats, as varied as the stunning art.

All the poems make great read-alouds and you could easily start at the beginning and work your way straight through the 100 pages. Or dip and nibble, try one season at a time, or a sample from each season. Ration yourself to one poem a day or gulp them all at once! The poems cover nature in the city, at the beach, on the farm, at night, in the rain, in the snow. Little surprises are popped in - five reasons chickens are funny, a recipe for berry crumble, how to build your own den. The book ends with instructions on saving seeds and feeding birds.

And then the artwork...I desperately wish I knew enough about art to explain why this art is so lovely! Happily, Seven Impossible Things can do that for me. I will just say that it is robust and colorful, beautiful without being trite, and endlessly inventive and appreciative and the beauty of nature with a running theme of birds.

Verdict: I have bought perhaps one poetry book a year for the past four years so when I say buy this, you know it's exceptional! I'm even going to buy a copy for myself sometime, it's just that lovely.

ISBN: 9780763655495; Published February 2012 by Candlewick; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

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