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Friday, July 13, 2018

Drawn From Nature, by Helen Ahpornsiri. Templar, Candlewick Press. Penguin Random House, 2018. $30.00 all ages

"Out in the meadow, summer is in full swing - poppies sway in a gentle breeze, wheat turns golden in the sun, and nimble harvest mice climb the stalks in search of a midsummer feast. Since the wheat is sown in spring, by summer it has grown tall and strong, and now its heads are heavy with grain. At summer's end, the crops will be harvested: the wheat grains will be ground into flour, and its stalks will be dried ... "

It is obvious that this book began with a consuming love of the natural world. Did the art come first? I would guess it was a love for the world around that drew Helen Ahpornsiri to design the absolutely wondrous compositions she constructs using pressed plants. You can see some of her work at this link:

After time spent poring over and treasuring the work found there, I want you to know about this  recently released book. Reading the careful, illuminating text that is testament to her great love for nature, you cannot help but be captivated by the language in both informative paragraphs and the delightful captions that accompany many of the images.

Spring begins the study. Observations include birdsong, nest building, awakening trees, growth, hares, pond life, butterflies and blossoms. Having helped her readers enjoy the eternal wonder of that early season, she moves on to summer: the meadow, cricket sound, the reeds, green leaves, buds and bees, summer nights. Autumn brings deer rutting, golden leaves, dandelion puffs, migration, nuts and berries, and fungi. Finally, winter is captured through observations about hibernation, bare branches, survival, berries, robins and red foxes. Could this just be the start? One can only hope!

I have barely touched on the delicate collage artwork that is breathtaking in its details. Each animal is created from carefully cut plant parts in pages designed to capture our full attention and awe. The colors chosen for each season are distinct and inspiring. Abundant white space allows for brilliance in the details, and encourages careful attention. Then, there is the negative space of this deep black background and the detail it brings to the fore. Can you tell I love it all?

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