Friday 9 December 2016

Natural World

Natural World by Amanda Wood & Mike Jolley, illustrated by Owen Davey (Murdoch Books) HB RRP $35.00
ISBN 9781847807519

Reviewed by Daniela Andrews

‘… over millions of years, since life appeared on Earth, each animal and every plant has evolved to look, behave and procreate in the way that gives it its best chance of survival …’

This information book, the first in the ‘Curiositree’ range, provides a compilation of 67 highly visual charts to help readers understand this connection.

The ‘Editor’s Note’ quotes Albert Einstein and Mark Twain, citing natural curiosity as a way for humans to peacefully co-exist with nature. To spark the curiosity of the book’s target audience (7 years and up), it has been compiled in a way that allows the reader to begin at any page they like. The chart margins include arrows propelling readers forward or backward through the book to other charts of relevance. This is great for people who don’t necessarily want to read the book from start to finish, allowing them to forge their own discovery path.

Most of the charts are double-page spreads, rich in text. Each chart is colour-coded with marginal icons. Yellow charts are about natural habitats (eg ‘Life in Tropical Rainforests’). Orange charts are about plant and animal species (eg ‘Butterflies and Moths’). Blue charts are about wildlife adaptations (eg ‘Super Spines’). The hardcover book, with thick matte pages, features three ribbons in corresponding colours to help readers bookmark their journey.

The book includes a comprehensive index, and a helpful introduction with a diagram showing how to use the book’s arrows. There is a contents page listing the chart titles. It might have been helpful for the contents listings to reflect the chart colours, but it is also nice to discover these when flipping through the book.

A lovely feature of this title is the dust jacket – it unfolds into a large, glossy poster (‘Brilliant Birds’) that will look great on the wall!

The illustrations by award-winning Owen Davey have been created digitally, but are surprisingly detailed and textured.

There is lots of information to absorb in this book, both in illustration and in text, making it a great reference for understanding how nature is connected … and indeed for encouraging one’s curiosity!

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