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Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature Hardcover – February 14, 2012
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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Best known for science books such as Extreme Animals (2006) and Surprising Sharks (2003), Davies turns to poetry in this large-format book. The poems cycle through the year from spring to winter, with more than a dozen poems in each seasonal section. Written in plain, down-to-earth language, the verse offers observations and information about the natural world as well as reflections, short narratives, and suggestions to help children to enjoy it. Hearld’s mixed-media collage illustrations are unified in style but varied in technique, offering different effects that suit the subjects of individual poems. The artwork is full of life and movement, color, and texture. While few of the verses rhyme, those that do are some of the best. A versatile blend of poetry and science, this is an excellent choice for sharing across the curriculum. Preschool-Grade 2. --Carolyn Phelan
Reading poetry may seem an activity for the winter-bound and introverted, but this lovely collection, organized by season, urges children to dash outside, slamming the screen door behind them. Unlike so much poetry geared toward children, not all the verse here rhymes, introducing readers to poetic language outside the predictable cadences of Dr. Seuss. Mixed-media illustrations, with an emphasis on woodblock and silhouette, offer plenty of beauty to contemplate.
—The New York Times
Divided into seasons, this visceral introduction to the wonders of nature explores cycles and the passage of time through rich, textural images and thoughtful poems... Debut talent Hearld layers his organic tableaux with matte, paper-cut collages, woodcuts, and other mixed-media techniques, complementing the album of ideas, images, and moods created by Davies’s evocative poetry.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Hearld's powerful multimedia illustrations layer paper-cut animals and diverse flora with vibrant swathes of watercolor, ink and crayon, creating dynamic scenes to which children can readily relate, while Davies' spare lyrics ground complex processes like the life cycles of frogs and dandelions and the formation of rainbows with relative clarity.
Oversized matte pages with full-bleed illustrations in rich complex hues suggest classic twentieth-century treasuries, and indeed the mixed-media art (which includes paints, prints, and collage work) recalls the spirited and earthtone-touched work of the Provensens. The combination of designerly patterning and vigorous individual style is particularly strong in the critters, as in the intricate barring on the wings of the wide-eyed chickens or the rough multi-toned coat on the russet fox.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
A handsome, oversize collection of original poems paired with vibrant illustrations in mixed media ranging from watercolor to collage. Broken down into seasons, the selections encourage children to observe the world around them and appreciate nature in lyrical ways.
—School Library Journal
The book is not so much a book of poems about nature, though, as much as it is a book of nature written in verse, targeting young children and communicating with them quite effectively.
It’s a real treat to see such a lovingly, thoughtfully designed book, a big book with a real presence. (And you want to be sure to remove the jacket flap to see the cover, not to mention the retro endpapers.) This is one of those books you run your hand over and flip through and generally ooh and ahh about before you even read the first page and take in Hearld’s expansive spreads. It’s simply not to be missed.
—Kirkus Children's Books blog
This is a beautiful book, thick and sturdy and elegant, printed on paper that seems to whisper under the fingers.
—Wall Street Journal
The eye-catching illustrations and evocative language will have most kids reading a selection and then popping outside to check out the stars “making pinprick patterns in the night” or looking for worms that “seem too small to be important, but watch...the worms are recycling.”
Nicola Davies’ descriptive vignettes and Mark Hearld’s Caldecott Medal-worthy drawings brilliantly capture the astounding magic tricks that the world produces with reliable ease. Whether the scene outside your child’s window is that of rainbows and bucolic pastures of sheep or simply tomatoes being grown on the fire escape, this book celebrates it with an equal measure of awe.
I can't think of a more beautiful way to honor [Mother Earth] than with this lovely book of poems.
—Huffington Post Parents
Hearld's eye-catching collages give this collection of poems about the seasons a handmade quality that will instantly make it a favorite.
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The 110 page picture book progresses through the seasons, starting with spring. The poems are simple and straightforward for the most part. Which makes the author's occasional metaphors and similes light up her poems.
The spectacular art, which we're told is mixed media, draws you into the author's observations of each poem. By the look, I'd say the artwork is a collage of watercolor, gouache, and ink on paper.
In "Bulbs" Davies writes, "something tells the bulb it's time to grow./Inside its brown coat and layers like an onion,/ a tiny pulse beats..." The author has watched nature and passes her acute observations to us through a child-like eye, making us experience nature afresh.
In "Nesting" artist Hearld uses actual strands of straw in the bird's beak and in the nest she's building. It makes you feel like you're helping to construct the nest.
In "Flowers," Davies writes, "Without a sound the flowers call out./ They shout to insects with their colors--" What we normally see, the author has made us hear. Let's listen to our gardens.
In "Tide Pooling," Hearld uses mono-printed fish or crayfish in the larger spread. That is, he's made a woodcut or linoleum cut or maybe a potato cut of one fish, and printed it in various colors across his larger composition. The artwork makes you want to try some of his child-friendly techniques.
In "Starlings," she says of the flying starlings, "hundreds, thousands maybe...They look like smoke, or a curtain rippling in the breeze...as their flying is a dance that they all know by heart." Nice image, but the clincher is the heartfelt dance.
Perhaps my favorite of the poems is "Snow Song" in which Davies speaks of falling snow. "Listen, and you can hear the quiet,/ as if every sound had been wrapped up and put away." And "snow kept a diary" of animal and bird footprints.
Read this book and look outside your window. Go outside and see nature. Observe her acutely. This is a great book for studying and writing poetry in the classroom. The free verse poems invite you to make your own observations.
Patricia Hruby Powell is a nationally touring speaker, dancer, storyteller, occasional librarian, and children's book author. talesforallages.com/reviews
"Let's go berry picking!
Up the path, over the fence...
At first your basket seems to big, and then
not big enough, for berry picking.
Back home, we make a great, big pie
to share our berry picking"
The mixed media illustration is super fun, with painting, block prints, and a modge podge of art forms.