This book, originally released in French, is a stunning work of art. Inspired by 17th and 18th century natural history artwork, by scientists and explorers who hand-sketched their discoveries, Wonders of Nature is an illustrated “cabinet of curiosities”, as author/artist Florence Guiraud puts it, of the natural world. There are meditations on birds’ plumage and nests; butterflies and bugs’ wings; starfish families, and jellyfish. Seven chapters come together through 2-page spreads in watercolor and sketch artwork to create detailed, breathtaking illustrations of birds, insects, and sea life.
I’ve had the privilege of seeing some 16th and 17th century natural history sketchbooks – by the way, you can, too: the American Museum of Natural History has an online research library with Digital Special Collections, including selections from their Rare Book Collection – and one can easily see how the artwork is inspired by these early natural history explorers and scientists. This is such a great way to get kids interested in natural history; how to interest them in wandering around their local parks, zoos, and museums, notebook in hand, and encourage them to draw their world, their way.
Each section introduces a topic with informative text that entices the reader into turning the page; that turn of the page launches readers into exciting new worlds, with animals they may never have seen before. Each drawing is labeled, helping kids – and adults – expand their world. Each section concludes with a “random directory” that provides further nibbles of information about different fauna, with page references for easy location.
Learn your world, and share it. Wonders of Nature is a solid add to your natural history collections and a great gift for readers who love nature and art. Display and booktalk with Candlewick’s Welcome to the Museum books (Dinosaurium, Animalium, Botanicum, and others).