Nature Adventures, Frances Lincoln Children's Books (2011)
“They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know.
Rudyard Kipling (Woodlands section)
While I would rather take my children to a park than to a library, I want them to have a well rounded knowledge base. I want them to be comfortable running down a wooded path and also find solace squishing into a pillow nest with a new book on a rainy day.
Nature Adventures (March 2011) by Manning and Granstrom has hidden literary quotations among the wonderful drawings of birds, trees and leaves. While each page has descriptions, activities and information, the main highlight is on the illustrations. The drawings are simply done, but are not cartoony. I seem to enjoy looking at them as much as my one year old.
The book breaks down the natural world into sections: In the Town, Fresh Water, Woodland, Field and Hedgerow, Wild Country, Sea Shore and Through the Seasons. A short description of the area opens the chapter and introduces the scenery. The drawings then show the flora and fauna you would find. The Fresh Water section shows children dipping jars into a stream and examining the contents (it also says to “let your prisoner go afterwards”). It also describes how to make a cast of an animal track and how to make to toasties (wild garlic on toast with cheese).
The sections cover different animal droppings for identification, leaves, bird eggs, common grasses and describes various bird calls. I have a long held fascination with the weasel family and the book taught me that ermine is actually just a white stoat. Badgers dig holes for their droppings, the alarm call of the Jay sounds like tearing paper and that Grey Seals can be attracted by sining like a warbling opera star.
I was so in love with the illustrations that I found the duo’s website. I hope you have a minute to spend there as it is amusing as well.
There are a million things to look at and learn about on each page. I found myself getting lost in the pages. The children would talk about the fish jumping and I could read about their habitat. I also was entranced by the English diction such as “rucksack” and the quotes such as, “Lonely the seabird lies at her rest, Blown like a dawn-blenched parcel of spray” by Yeats.
I give Nature Adventures my Alaskan Mom Approval for its amazing nature drawings, ability to grow with the child (first as a picture book and later as a field guide) and for how it can transport me away from screaming children to a seaside in England where I might catch a glimpse of Mr. Darcy (this nature girl has a penchant for literature as well!). Go grab a copy of this book for yourself and get another as a gift for your budding explorer! It is current $13.94 at Barnes and Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/nature-adventures-mick-manning/1101363664)