by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris, published 2018
“Once upon a time, words began to vanish from the language of children…You hold in your hands a spellbook for conjuring back these lost words. To read it you will need to seek, find, and speak.”
Thanks once again to my good friend Kerry of Mothering Arts for putting this extraordinary book on my radar. A huge, oversized illustrated children’s book, it lives up to its subtitle: A Spell Book. The book contains a selection of nature’s gifts of plants and animals, with an intricate and sometimes rhyming verse about each, an alphabetic discover of the name, and illustrations that take over the imagination. This is a children’s book to be savored one page at a time, to dream over, to talk over, and to revel in. Then it may inspire you and your child to head out into nature armed with your spell, and discover the world out there.
More than anything else, this illustrated children’s book delights in language. It must be read out loud for the spell to work. Here’s a sample, (and notice the first letter of each line):
Fern’s first first form is furled,
Each Front fast as a fiddle-head.
Reach, roll and unfold follows. Fern flares.
Now fern is fully fanned.
But the illustrations are the also the magic, heart, and soul of this illustrated children’s book. They span two giant pages, they give hints on one page to what will occur on the next, and they invite visual exploration. This is an expensive illustrated children’s book, but reasonable used copies can be found.