(Left) Our World: A First Book of Geography
Author: Sue Lowell Gallion
Illustrator: Lisk Feng
(Middle) The Earth Book: A World of Exploration and Wonder
Author: Jonathan Litton
Illustrator: Thomas Hegbrook
(Right) Hello, Earth! Poems to Our Planet
Author: Joyce Sidman
Illustrator: Miren Asiain Lora
High mountains and deep seas, deserts and rainforests, sunrises and tides...Are all these natural phenomena and habitats on Earth a definite existence or are they just a part of an ever-changing scheme?
We are one of the many children of planet Earth and it is also one of the many children of the universe. Before reading Our World: A First Book of Geography, The Earth Book: A World of Exploration and Wonder and Hello, Earth! Poems to Our Planet, let us curiously and humbly ask the Blue Marble— “Who are you?”. Will it answer the question with a series of scientific formulas or with a poem instead?
Über Land und durch die Luft. So reisen die Pflanzen.
Author/Illustrator: Anne Möller
Living in the city, it is quite common for us to see small plants sprouting from crevices of concrete walls and pavements. And when summer arrives, the seed fluffs from the kapok trees fly freely, creating “snowfall” even in our subtropical city.
“So how do plants get to where they are currently grown?” This picture book describes how seeds utilise the power of nature to reach further and complete their “travelling journey” through their unique yet fascinating structures.
While we are reading the book, we realise that after a long and strenuous journey, only one in a thousand seeds can find its suitable ground to grow on. The emergence of each plant on this planet truly deserves our gratitude and admiration.
(Above) What Is a River?
Author/Illustrator: Monika Vaicenavičienė
(Below) Once Upon a Raindrop: The Story of Water
Author: James Carter
“Be water my friend”, but before that, let us take part in these two journeys about water—
The picture book What Is a River? is like a small boat floating down the stream, loaded with curiosity, it traces the history and origins of various places and jungles, finally taking us back to the sea...The river connects us with nature, it is also home to countless of species; like a long, meandering ribbon, it ceaselessly passes on civilization from generation to generation...
So, what is water, actually? It could be as tough as the turbulent tides hitting the shore, and as mellow as tears from one’s eyes. Being such a fluid element, what did “water” look like when it first existed on Earth? Once Upon a Raindrop: The Story of Water walks us through a brief history of aqua, with rhythmic texts, this scientific journey is now fun and compelling.
Author: Kirsten Hall
Illustrator: Isabelle Arsenault
Albert Einstein once said, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left.” How pivotal then, can a tiny insect be for Earth’s ecosystem? Let’s dive into The Honeybee and put ourselves into the shoes of these little creatures to get a taste of their busy daily life. Earth’s beauty does not come easy, it is formed by the tacit understanding and mutual reliance of vastly different creatures, including ours.
Author: Katsumi Komagata
Nature is one of the many representations of time.
To read Little Tree is like witnessing its passage—a small seedling grows into a big tree, and even large life forms deteriorate, yet the power of life never really disappeared in the cycle. With this book, the author wants to pay tribute to his late teacher, and honour the knowledge and wisdom that were brought to him—it is when one life impacts another that the most commendable act of nature is shown.
Du lz Tak?
Author: Carson Ellis
Insects assemble! There they are, nurturing seeds as the plants germinate, blossom and wither. Neither joyous nor sorrowful, the boom and bust of nature simply complete the perfect cycle of life. In Du Iz Tak?, the author composes the dialogue between different creatures with a self-invented language, allowing the readers to flex their imagination muscle to appreciate the change of the seasons.
The Blue Hour
Author/Illustrator: Isabelle Simler
The Blue Hour freezes the flowing of time and puts our focus on the magical moment that comes after dusk. From the deep forest and vast ocean, all things in nature are painted with a shade of blue under the charming indigo sky, reflecting an unparalleled scenery. Not only does this rare moment bring upon dramatic visual effects, The Blue Hour also helps retrieve a missing puzzle for us busy urbanites—reviving our long-lost sense for appreciating beauty.
Author: Hélène Druvert
Picture books with “nature” as the main theme often have ingenious designs to draw readers into the topic with great fascination.
Portraying a young boy’s accidental entrance to a fantasy-esque jungle while chasing butterflies in his backyard, Garden Jungle is illustrated with colourful and dazzling laser-cut silhouettes that make the dreamy jungle come alive.
A Pile of Leaves
Authors: Jason Fulford, Tamara Shopsin
It is said that a world is found on each thriving or fallen leaf—behold, they have graced every single page of A Pile of Leaves. When we open the book, the “leaves” inside will move steadily, does it not reminisce the falling of leaves? Do keep reading, and when the leaves begin to pile up, can you spot something intriguing right there?
Creatures of the Deep: The Pop-up Book
Author: Maike Biederstaedt
Illustrator: Ernst Haeckel
Renowned and industrious German zoologist Ernst Haeckel, began to observe and draw sketches of natural creatures as early as the end of the 19th century. He was fascinated by the complexity and perfectly symmetrical structures of jellyfish, radiolarians, and ammonites. Creatures of the Deep: The Pop-up Book puts Ernst’s paintings into a carefully designed pop-up book. Can you imagine that these astonishing colour sketches on each page were influential to the follow-up study of Darwin’s theory of evolution and works from the Art Nouveau period? Now, who do you think is the greatest artist in the world?
Author: Deborah Underwood
Illustrator: Cindy Derby
Inside skyscrapers, everyday life happens.
Inside modern transportations, rapid communication begins. Considered as the outside—isolated and far—nature is yet always with us. Light shining through the windows brings us the game of shadows, raindrops falling on car windows compose a melodic song. Without leaving the house, one can always hear the call from nature. With lyrical illustrations and beautiful short ballads, “nature” in this picture book is almost depicted as a modest and gentle lover, who is quietly waiting for his parted beloved to return. “I miss you”, says nature. Do you miss him?
Ocean Meets Sky
Author/Illustrator: The Fan Brothers
Children from fishing communities might be able to remember this saying from the daily banter of their family elders, “When the storm comes, sail your boat with a shoal of fish, they will lead you home.” To this generation of kids who are no longer living at sea, the stories, legends and myths passed on from their ancestors are perhaps their closest link with nature.
Ocean Meets Sky recounts grandpa’s memories of the sea through Finn, his grandchild’s imaginative and wild journey. Not only is the story about inheriting family legacies, it also depicts the driving force that is able to keep our curiosity and tenderness towards nature, and give us courage to set sail for the future.
Dans ma montagne
Author: François Aubineau
Illustrator: Jérôme Peyrat
With contradictory interests and opposite positions, the shepherd and the wolf both share the natural resources of the mountain and deem it as their home. Using a dual-cover design, the book allows readers to take a peek at the two different perspectives of the characters, viewing the world in each of their ways.
The mountain, isn’t it just like Earth? Thousands of other species from nature are watching the same view just like we do. What do you think the world is like from their eyes? How should we then, co-exist with our neighbours on the planet?
Author/Illustrator: Marianna Coppo
A tiny body doesn’t stop the little stone from having a big heart—the story of the wise Petra is like a parable, a timely reminder for the modern reader.
Despite of change and the transience of life, we can still live in the moment with intention, acceptance and style. Let us embrace possibilities, and find our own pace of living.
Confronted by the drastic changes in the city, one might be wary of the future, or battling with bottled emotions. May this tiny rock bring us solace, and remind us to keep rolling.
Forêt des frères
Author/Illustrator: Yukiko Noritake
Forêt des frères tells the story of two brothers who each inherited a lakeside forest. Their parallel experiences were depicted through two points of view, where the forest displayed completely different development.
The Shortest Day
Author: Susan Cooper
Illustrator: Carson Ellis
Looking at the sky from where we are on Earth, have you ever wondered about the distance between our planet and the stars above? Back in ancient times, humans had already begun their quest for the answer. By observing the sun and its movement, men divided the year into 24 equal parts. Based on their insights from nature, they created what is currently called the calendar. The length of each day varies throughout the year, but the longest day is known as the summer solstice and the shortest one is known as the winter solstice.
The Shortest Day is adapted from the poem of the same title written by Susan Cooper. Illustrated by Carson Ellis, the book talks about how people of different religions and traditions celebrate the bright future on the day with the least hours of sunlight. Using cool-toned gouache as his main medium, Ellis paints beautiful, double-page scenes of the shortest day with a soft and gentle style. The sun goes down, and the trees die with dryness. Dandelions fly as the birds depart into the sky; people gather to prepare for the longest night in the year. Fires are made and candles are ablaze with melodic music. Humans break the darkness by bringing their own light to the night. All the peaceful and hopeful images in the book are a celebration of light, portraying a deep sense of respect for nature, as all creatures renew at sunrise.
It is truly a gift, for us to celebrate a peaceful day together. Let us slow down, put our hands up and dance—to welcome daybreak, and to feel happy for being just as we are.
I Talk Like A River
Author: Jordan Scott
Illustrator: Sydney Smith
Nature’s calm existence is able to evoke a wordless power that can open closed hearts and heal deep wounds—if you are willing to be in its quiet presence for a while...
The young, deflated protagonist who is unable to overcome his own stuttering—was brought to the river by his father. As they came across the tranquil waters and witnessed the turbulent streams, the child finally smiled. What sort of wisdom and power did the river provide him?
A stranded whale brought along a full belly of vivid-coloured, smooth, and stiff objects to the shore. In the eyes of the islanders, the items represented life possibilities of convenience and efficiency even. Little girl Earf eagerly collected the objects just like the others did but lost sight of her precious pet Piglet along her way. Birds once used to sing and fishes that used to swim on the beach gradually vanished too, carcass of the giant whale has also disappeared eventually, leaving only the vibrant colours there, forever and ever.
“The island has always been beautiful. Are those extra colours necessary?” This story is a provoking environmental fable presented through an intriguing aesthetic. The colour contrast in the book conveys the dichotomous but codependent relationship between the villagers and the objects. Through the underwater and aerial perspectives of fishes and birds, the all-knowing readers can perceive the shocking reality beyond the eyes of the islanders.
Alle Jahre wieder saust der Presslufthammer nieder oder: Die Veränderung der Landschaft
Author/Illustrator: Jörg Müller
Standing at the same spot, watching the same view—we are witnessing the changes of a village called Güllen through twenty years. The author intricately illustrated seven “transitional frames”, documenting the transformation of the landscape in the course of time. Can you hear the sound? Can you smell the scent? Do you notice that flicker of light in the air?
In the seventh painting, an eye-catching billboard sign stands at the roadside of the village, foretelling its future: “After the completion of the shopping center, Güllen will be a beautiful and pleasant place.”
Will you still remember this village you once walked through in the future?
Le jour des Baleines
Author: Cornelius (Davide Cali)
Illustrator: Tommaso Carozzi
A group of behemoths floated through the air, humans on the ground were terrified yet they were also fixated on the whereabouts of these creatures. Finally, these “unwanted aerial visitors” were all wiped out, but something else was lurking, yet again...
Like an impregnable, concrete-constructed fort, everything in the city seems to be in perfect order, yet it feels almost cold and dull. The mysterious nature and other species are often conceived as mankind’s “imaginary enemies”. Is the unconquerable nature our real threat? Or is it people’s fear and anxiety of the unknown and disorder?
The Digger And The Flower
Author/Illustrator: Joseph Kuefler
In the face of rapid development, what can we, humans, do? In The Digger And The Flower, a digger shows his compassion towards a little flower on a piece of land about to be levelled out, he waters it, shields it from the wind, and even sings to it. Unfortunately, a new building is about to be built on where the little flower is located. How will the digger respond to the blame from his peers? And where will that little flower go eventually?
The Last Tree
Author/Illustrator: Emily Haworth-Booth
Once upon a time, a small clan searched everywhere for a place to live and finally settled down in a forest. More and more trees were chopped down to start fires, build houses, and stack up as windbreak walls. Soon, there was only one tree left...
For a very long time, humans have obtained resources and energy from nature to make life easier and more convenient. However, with excessive demand, we become suspicious of one another and competitive over scarce materials, completely forgetting to give back to nature and sow the seeds for the generations to come...
The Polar Bear
The polar bear on the book cover is trapped by iron bars at a place called the zoo. At the beginning of the story, the cage was opened, and the white bear walked out, passing through bustling streets and even the crowded subway platform... Where does it want to go exactly? Being able to walk freely in the city, why is it sad and confused?
The Polar Bear is a wordless picture book. Without the guidance of words and a fixed narrative, readers can use their imagination to interpret the book in their own way. Children can get creative as they read the book, experiencing a new journey each time they go through it.
The polar bear eventually arrives at the North Pole, and the sky brings along its favourite food as a welcoming gift. Is this a real journey, or is it just a dream of the bear’s heavy homesickness from living inside the cage?
나무가 자라는 빌딩
A little girl is stuck at home while a heavy smog blankets her city. Letting her mind run wild as she looks out from the window, she begins to paint her canvas with an imaginary utopia—a city filled with greenery that has a playground brimful of flowers, a plant laboratory emitting fresh air and numerous glasshouses for animals to habituate.
Readers will be able to find vibrant images in the book, and when we open the folded page inside, the anatomy of the little girl’s utopian apartment will reveal before us. The surrealism presented in the story is stemmed from the author’s trip to Cambodia. Being there at Angkor Wat and seeing how trees intertwine with the temples has shown her that man-made architecture and nature can indeed co-live.
When nature is able to flourish in our city just as the little girl has imagined, perhaps a utopia where simplicity and prosperity, liveliness and quietness co-exist can finally come true?
Author: Minoru Kamata
Illustrator: Yoshifumi Hasegawa
Little Spinach grows under the care of a farmer couple and wishes wholeheartedly to become a splendid meal for humans when the time comes. For the Little Rice Crops, they are also looking forward to showcasing their impeccable deliciousness...Contaminated by radiation— a colourless, odourless, and soundless substance, the crops are now inedible. Little Spinach and Little Rice Crops cry, as they mourn the loss of their purposes...
Written from the perspective of food—the victims of nature from a nuclear disaster, this book provides readers with a better understanding of the impact of the incident and the feelings of those who suffered in such tragedy. On March 11, 2011, the radiation leakage from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant aroused global attention to the safety of nuclear power. Aside from humans, radiation also affects animals, plants, soil, and water sources. While we are dedicated to pursuing a better future, can we find a better way to co-exist with nature as well?