10 to Read: Picture Books That Celebrate the Beauty and Diversity of Nature

Translator and picture-book connoisseur Laura Taylor chooses 10 beautiful picture books from around the world that celebrate nature:

By Laura Taylor

There’s so much to explore and discover on this beautiful planet we share. Often, it’s the seemingly simple things that bring the most pleasure: the sound of the wind in the trees, the smell of fresh snow, the taste of fresh honey. But we can only experience them fully when we allow ourselves the time and space to reconnect with nature.

Here are ten books that encourage readers to do just that.

The Book of Beesillustrated by Piotr Socha, text by Wojciech Grajkowski, translated by Agnes Monod-Gayraud [Poland]

Wow – bees are amazing creatures! And if you didn’t think so before you certainly will after browsing this encyclopaedic picture book from Poland. 72 very large pages to enjoy on topics such as ‘Bees and Dinosaurs’, ‘Unusual Beehives’ and ‘The Giant Honey Bees of Asia’. Stunning illustrations, combined with a wealth of facts and stories.

Plumeby Isabelle Simler, translator [unknown] [France]

Featuring birds, their feathers and a cat named Plume.

“Elegant and playful, Simler’s meticulous digital renderings of birds and their plumage invite close inspection, offering as well a chance to figure out where the cat is lurking within the clever composition of each page.” – New York Times

Outside: A Guide to Discovering Nature by Maria Ana Peixe Dias and Inês Teixeira do Rosário, illustrated by Bernardo P. Carvalho, translated by Lucy Greaves [Portugal]

At 368 pages, this illustrated nature guide is packed with information and ideas, organised under simple chapter headings, such as “Birds: Look Up There!” and “Flowers: What Are Flowers For?” Stunning illustrations in just two colours, blue and orange. The original Portuguese edition of this book won the prestigious Bologna Ragazzi award in 2015.

The Mushroom Fan Clubby Elise Gravel, translator unknown [Quebec]

The author/illustrator of the Disgusting Crittersseries shares her love and knowledge of mushrooms of all types in her latest book.

The Mushroom Fan Club is powered by Gravel’s disarming enthusiasm. With its personable approach, casual asides, and goofy humour, the book has the feel of a classroom visit from the Mushroom Lady.” – Quill & Quire

Beasts of India, by Kanchana Arni and Gita Wolf with various artists [India]

This is a glorious collection of animal prints from original paintings by Indian tribal and folk artists. Featuring brightly coloured tigers, elephants, deer, snakes and more, individually screen printed on thick handmade paper. A limited-edition reprint of a classic title from Tara Books.

Mountains of the World by Dieter Braun, translated by Jen Calleja [Germany]

Discover some of the world’s fascinating mountain ranges – the Andes, the Alps and the Himalaya – and meet some of the people and animals who live there. This richly illustrated title also features climbers who have tackled some of the most challenging peaks.

Agua, Agüita / Water, Little Water by Jorge Argueta; illustrated by Felipe Ugalde Alcántara; translated by Gabriela Baeza Ventura[El Salvador]

A poetic exploration of the water cycle in English, Spanish and Nahuat.

“Argueta captures the fleeting, indescribable nature of water: ‘I am all colors/and have no color./I am all flavors/and have no flavor.’ At the end of the cycle, Little Water returns singing to Earth: ‘I am life.’” – School Library Journal

Brrrr! A Book of Winterby Il Sung Na [South Korea]

“This magical book from South Korea illustrates the impact of winter’s arrival on a range of animals. We follow a little white rabbit, but we also encounter squirrels, bears, turtles, sheep and more. Il Sung Na’s delicate illustrations are a delight . . ..” – Outside in World

A Walk in the Forestby Maria Dek, translator unknown [Poland]

The woods are a place of wonder. There are footprints to follow, pinecones to collect, trees that whisper and birds that flutter through the pages.

“A startling, successful evocation of the natural world and an urgent entreaty for young people to immerse themselves in the outdoors.” – Kirkus Reviews

Animals at Night: A Glow-in-the-Dark Book by Anne Jankeliowitch, illustrated by Delphine Chedru, translated by Eve Bodeux [France]

We might be sleeping, but all sorts of animals are awake at night. This book reveals what they are and what they are up to.

“A fresh take on animal non-fiction, exploring different habitats under a nocturnal lens . . . The real draw is the glow in the dark imagery on each spread.” – The Bookseller

Laura Taylor is a translator from French to English, writer and mother of two young children. In May 2017, she set out to research, read and review picture books from every country in the world. She blogs at www.planetpicturebook.com and tweets @plapibo.


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