A First Book of Nature is described as ‘part poetry, part scrapbook’ and is designed for a child’s view of the natural world around them. The book is divided into the four seasons, with poems and facts inspired by each, and with a colour palette to match.
Mark Hearld's illustrations are gorgeous, lush and colorful, using collage to create a texture that you can almost feel. His bold use of colour, combined with an eye for detail, is the most inspiring and descriptive aspect of this book.
Nicola Davies, who is a biologist as well as a writer, has created a journal filled with poetry, recipes and ideas. This is not so much a bedtime story as an accessible, interesting handbook for children that are beginning to take an interest in the world around them. Davies includes activities for children too: pond-dipping, a berry crumble recipe, how to preserve seeds for planting. There is a thank you to earthworms, and odes to compost, pigeons and moths.
While Davies keeps her writing clear and informative, there are also poetical moments that belie its simplicity, with the poem 'Night' ending with 'Sometimes you can feel the world is turning'. While some poems are traditionally rhymed, many are free verse, which some children may find a little more difficult to access.
Not every child will find this exciting, as Davies' content is more suited to aspiring explorers and biologists but A First Book of Nature is a beautiful looking book, with Hearld's illustrations alone making it a joy to turn the pages.