Monday, April 9, 2018

Drawn from Nature by Helen Ahpornsiri

Usually, I'm far more interested in the contents of a book than its presentation. But this book combines so many beautiful elements - art, text, and the presentation - that it appeals to all the senses.

With stunning art created from dried plants and flowers, Ahpornsiri explores the beauty and wonder of the seasons. This reminded me of some of the Victorian botany exhibits or a nature diary. There's no particular organization of the information, it's just a lovely collection of information and art. The spring section includes information about birds nesting, seeds sprouting, life in a pond, and butterflies. Summer wanders through meadows with swallows swooping overhead, crickets chirping, wetland animals, and the glory of an owl at night. In autumn the leaves begin to fall, the clash of the deer rutting is heard, and the birds begin to fly south. Then winter comes with bare branches as the trees' life cycle slows, evergreens, winter berries, and hibernation.

A final note from the artist explains her art process, followed by a brief glossary. This isn't a book that students will read for research; it's a lovely exploration of the beauty of the seasons, with delightful wordplay and lyric descriptions of the natural world. Although sometimes the art can have a little bit of sameness about it, with repeating patterns of pink, red, green, and brown, there are many pages of art that stand out with stunning effect; the delicate lines of the heron, recreated on the front cover; the glowing beauty of the owl and other night creatures, set against a black background; and the cheerful colors and patterns of the mushrooms, to name a few.

Verdict: This is too long for a storytime and not a research-type book. Nevertheless, it will find an audience among young and old readers who enjoy beautiful language and art and will fall in love with its evocative exploration of the seasons. It would also make a great tie-in book for a program on creating art with natural materials.

ISBN: 9780763698980; Published March 2018 by Big Picture Press; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

This is, I think, my favorite spread. You have to see the book to get the full beauty of the art though!

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