I’ve been so excited about this book for so long! I love Freya Hartas’ illustration style, and it is through her that I learned about this book. Here’s my review for Slow Down, written by Rachel Williams and illustrated by Freya Hartas.
This book is a collection of 50 natural phenomena to observe and enjoy. It is meant as a book to help children explore nature and mindfulness.
First, what a great idea! This would have been the perfect book for me as a child, but it is frankly the perfect book for me as an adult. If you love learning, love nature and want to observe and understand the world, this is the perfect book for you too! Rachel Williams did a wonderful job at picking out phenomena that are both easy to observe but interesting to understand. Plus, you’ll learn about animals, plants and weather! Even as an adult, there were some things in the book that I didn’t know and was impressed to learn about.
Now, the illustrations are what got me hooked on the book. As I mentioned, I learned about the book through Freya Hartas, the illustrator. What I love most about her illustrations is that whatever subject she is drawing, they’ll have a personality. This makes every single page fun to explore and get lost into. Her colouring is also so bright and alive. It was a pleasure to see her detailed illustrations page after page.
Also, this book is a very beautiful book that makes an incredible gift. It is big and hardcover which makes it perfect for little hands dragging it to the park or the garden. Every page is filled with details both in the illustrations and in the text. I loved this kind of books when I was a kid: you could jump into any page and find a little detail to notice and appreciate. More over, as each phenomena takes two pages of the book, this could make a great book for a reluctant reader. I could imagine myself reading just the two pages and sending off kids to explore nature. It’s a great resource for the young naturalists in your life. A strong point of the book is also that it presents both rural and urban natural scenes so everyone will be able to find something to observe.
Finally, I would put this book on every to-read list there is because it is such a great invitation to observe and appreciate the wonder and excitement of nature. For this reason, I think it is an incredible tool to help children and their parents understand how fascinating the natural world is. This for me is primordial if we want to preserve nature in any significant way. It is much more easier to protect something you love and know after all.
Another rainy day find: the beautifully sweet and woderfully illustrated graphic novel, Kodi by Jared Cullum.
I promise that I don’t only buy books on rainy days, but this one is another great rainy day find. I couldn’t resist this album all drawn in watercolours AND about a bear.
First and foremost, the illustrations are beautiful. Jared Cullum strikes again with wonderful watercolours where light, textures and colours create a soft and descriptive world. I’m particularly impressed by how effectively he renders light and shadows. It is such a big difficulty for me; it’s mesmerizing to see a master at work.
Another thing that I really enjoyed was the rhythm of the story. Some pages are almost cinematographic, and you find yourself racing along with the characters. With often little words, Cullum creates whole scenes and emotions, touching and sometimes comical.
I also really enjoyed his character design. His bear is everything a child would love: big and strong, yet also vulnerable and gentle. The little girl is strong and willful and so relatable. The grandmother is also quite extraordinary with her tiny hands and big body that seems to me made for hugging. I also loved how the townspeople are depicted. Frankly, all the characters have something unique and special. I found myself wondering about each one of them. The possibilities for spinoffs are endless!
Finally, if nothing else will do it for you, the story of friendship between a bear and a little girl will warm the coldest of hearts. Filled with unlikely companions, this story is soft and beautiful, while still appealing to children and adults alike. Themes of friendship, trust and loyalty are explored in a story where camaraderie and love conquer all. I cannot wait for the other books to come out! In the meantime, I strongly suggest adding this title to your to-read list! (psst, you can even grab a signed copy!)