Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Wonderful World of Nature

I like spring (I don't actually love it until late April-May, because I don't love pollen and 30-40 degree mornings in April; fall is my favorite season). Spring brings the opening of farmers markets, new farm babies (I love seeing the little calves and lambs when I'm driving around the county), and great weather for exploring our beautiful countryside. We recently received several nature-themed books that will definitely put you in the mood for exploring and appreciating nature:

Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature

When I think of publishers who consistently produce gorgeous books, three immediately come to mind: Candlewick, Barefoot Books, and National Geographic's line of children's books (crafters should know that Barefoot Books also produces a beautiful catalog that's perfect for making striking paper jewelry--something that this eco-conscious publisher would no doubt approve!). Outside Your Window, published by Candlewick, is a joy to behold (and touch--the paper is quite inviting and smooth, like many Candlewick books).  Nicola Davies's poems artfully capture the beauty and wonder of the seasons, while Mark Hearld's illustrates demand lingering observations and admirations.     

National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA

I KNEW this book would be popular with our patrons. All three copies are currently checked out, and each copy has had several check outs. Our national parks have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity;  with one of the greatest within driving distance, this was definitely a must order!  The parks are divided into geographical regions; each chapter includes information on animals found within the park, family-friendly park activities and programs, maps, color pictures, and important checklists.  I hope the success of this will inspire National Geographic to publish more kid-friendly travel guides; this is definitely a market to corner. I spent many childhood springs and summers at national parks (The Grand Canyon, Shenandoah, the Rockies, and the Smokies), and I would have loved a book like this.  

The National Park Service's website has an excellent children's section that's worth exploring.

A Victorian Flower Dictionary (adult nonfiction)

Two events in 2011 prompted a renewed interest in the language of flowers: the publication of The Language of Flowers novel and the Kate Middleton-Prince William wedding (the flower arrangements were specifically selected for their symbolism). All this symbolism (beyond the meaning of red roses, pink roses, white roses, and yellow roses) was new to me, so I was enchanted with the whole concept.  Behold my disappointment when Mandy Kirkby informs us that the Victorians didn't actually send  furtive messages through flower bouquets (they mainly studied coffee table flower dictionaries for parlor amusements). Darn. It was much more fun when I thought the opposite, although I did wonder, between the coded messages sent through fans (which I'm guessing were just parlor inventions as well) and flowers, how everyone managed to keep everything straight. Kirkby features the history, literary significances, and symbolism of 50 flowers, ending each chapter with an appropriate poem.  She also gives suggestions for creating your own meaningful bouquets. It's a lovely read (or gift, with a coded bouquet to boot) for the romantically inclined.

(Unless you include a yellow carnation. That's just wrong.)

Our Book Notes blog recently featured gardening books and nature books for adults--check it out!

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