With Spring finally in the air, there are plenty of opportunities to get children outside looking at the return of the insects, sprouting bulbs and buds appearing on trees. There is much to discover in our world and these books will help to highlight and encourage future naturalists.
A Perfect Spot by Isabelle Simler, Published by Pushkin Press
A Perfect Spot is the quest of the ladybird as she flies looking for the best place to land, rest and eat. However, everywhere she finds is remarkably hostile to her and she feels defeated, scared and uncertain. The clever use of camouflage by insects is beautifully brought to life by the illustrations in this book and it will perhaps open readers’ eyes to the plight of small insects in a bug eat bug world. Not just through the use of colours and camouflage but of the movement of flight and the detail of design, this book is a delight for the eyes. The life cycle of insects is endlessly fascinating for young readers so they will appreciate the very beginning of this journey, not to mention the incredible attention to detail in labelling the ladybird at the end and the introduction to the hostile insects throughout the book. While we journey with the ladybird we can see some of the surprises nature keeps a secret and it makes me wonder whether I would be able to spot any of these well hidden creatures in my garden. An absolute feast for the eyes, this will be popular with young readers. The Girl Who Planted Trees by Caryl Hart and Anastasia Suvorova, Published by Nosy Crow
If there was ever a testament to the power of dreams, hopes and wishes, then this is it. A young girl spots a glorious mountain scene in an old book and learns her desolate and dry mountain used to be lush and green. Determined to make it so again, she sets off to collect seeds, pips and stones to plant. Learning some valuable lessons about watering, time and the power of the sun and storms, the young girl does not give up, nor does her grandfather. Together they plant, care for and nurture trees, plants and flowers until they are mighty enough to survive on the top of the mountain. The coming together of the community to realise a dream of green is heartwarming and inspiring, giving the young girl more hope of creating a beautiful mountain. The passage of time is carefully shown in the glorious illustrations and decades have passed when the mountain becomes a dream come true. This is an absolute joy to read and share with young readers and to discuss just how this young girl united her community and created positive change. The Wild Garden by Cynthia Cliff, Published by Prestel
A wondrous and wild story inspired by the treasures to be found in nature. Jilly and Grandpa love to explore the wilds beyond the tidy rows of houses and beyond the tidy rows of the community garden. Jilly runs ahead with her dog to explore first while Grandpa trudges along looking for edible plants, seeds and nuts to use in his cooking. Their wild paths are full of animals and creatures, flowers and trees, streams and ponds, all the things nature needs most. While Jilly and Grandpa explore the wilds, the community plan their garden and they want more space, making plans to knock through into the wild. Jilly makes a plan to stop them, and it is not through anger but hope that she creates a treasure trail of exploration for the people to follow, allowing them the chance to discover the wild for themselves. The gorgeous use of colour and illustrations sets this book as a top pick for me. As you follow Jilly along, you feel a part of the scene and can immerse yourself in her wild. A brilliant story about nature, growing and care for the environment. So many opportunities to discuss gardens, food sustainability, recipes and friendship! It Starts With a Bee by Aimee Gallagher and Jennie Webber, Published by Quarto
We hear a lot on the news about the importance of bees to our world, how we need these small insects in order to survive. This gorgeous book will help our youngest bee lovers to learn about the role of bees in the world, see how clever they are and how they help our food to grow. Told in gentle rhyming text, the story of bees begins as they hibernate over the winter, gathered together to keep warm. When the first signs of spring arrive, it is straight to work gathering, collecting, sharing and pollinating the flowers around them. They share, collaborate and work together as a community. I love how positive this book is about bees and I hope that by reading this and sharing with young readers, they see less of the fear around bees and more of the need to protect them. The illustrations are beautifully drawn and coloured with a vibrancy of each season as it passes. There is a brilliant pull out page at the end that is worth the read through to study in detail. Gaia Goddess of Earth by Imogen and Isabel Greenberg, Published by Bloomsbury
Part graphic novel, part picture book, this incredible book is an amazing tale of gods, goddesses, Olympians, titans and endless struggles for power. This is the story of Gaia, mythical creator of the world and universe. Her story is fraught with drums of chaos, battles and powerful men intent on destroying everything in sight. Gaia is powerful and intends to restore peace and tranquillity on her creation. This serves as a superb introduction to Greek mythology and to some of the lesser known characters and stories that many readers find fascinating. The art style is amazing, and the use of colours on every inch of page gives the reader plenty of detail to study. Cleverly designed this style of book will appeal to so many readers, young and old. Not being overly familiar with Greek myths, I was pleased to see some familiar names and it helped to figure out the complex family tree of these mythical beings. Gaia only wanted love and peace for her world, which many of us still carry on in her honour. One World, 24 Hours on Planet Earth by Nicola Davies and Jenni Desmond, Published by Walker Books
During the pandemic, when we were forced to stay indoors, many children reached into their imaginations. While we couldn’t travel from our home or country, we could picture the world from news reports, books and magazines. Signs of hope in the planet began to show themselves while people were locked away proving just how much impact we have on the world. One World takes two young girls on a round the world adventure spotting fantastic animals and incredible settings which all need our voices and actions to be saved for future generations. This book highlights time differences around the world as well as environmental issues and offers a glimpse into some of the dangers facing our world today. The young girls want to advocate for change and I think this book could inspire others to do the same, even make small changes over time- no one is too small! What will your young reader want to do to protect the world and its creatures? The illustrations will allow readers to soar through the air, ride the crests of waves from whales and view wondrous animals from the tops of trees, what beauty there is on each page.