Nature in Focus – Home / Seasons

Here are two books from Little Tiger that focus on nature and the changing seasons

Home
Patricia Hegarty and Britta Teckentrup

‘All of us need a place to rest – / A cave, a warren, a pond, a nest … // Wherever we may choose to roam, / We need a place to call our home.” So says Patricia Hegarty’s introduction to this look at the forest that is home to all kinds of creatures large and small.
In the company of little bear, we visit a variety of animal homes starting with the cub and her family’s cave, dark and deep.

With the advent of spring, the cub ventures out watched by an owl in her tree. He visits the place where squirrels are gathering leaves for their drey; beavers are also building a shelter; a bird is busy nest building.

Further afield salmon spawn in the glistening river, multitudes of minibeasts are hard at work, and underground rabbits are safe in their warren.

As night begins to fall, a pack of wolves begin to prowl, hunting for food; while a flock of arctic terns make ready to begin their long journey before another winter sets in.

Finally as the cold arrives, it’s time for little bear and his family to hibernate ‘til spring comes round once more.

In her lyrical text Patricia takes us through the changing seasons and to the various animal homes. Britta Teckentrup’s signature style collage scenes, with their die-cut pages, follow the action and the bear cub, highlighting the importance of each home mentioned in the narrative as well as showing the seasonal changes in the forest.

Seasons
Hannah Pang and Clover Robin

Author Hannah and illustrator Clover take us to half a dozen different locations in the world to experience the natural world in all its glory through the seasons.

We observe the changes that each season brings, starting with a focus on a mighty European oak tree that stands majestically in a meadow, its spreading branches and roots providing shelter and food for countless creatures – birds, insects and other minibeasts, small mammals and some larger ones too.

Spring, summer and autumn with their flowers, fruits and fungi are times of abundance for the various animals. Come winter, the branches are bare and it’s a hard time for animals, many of which hide themselves away in order to survive. Indeed, change through every season is vital for survival of the tree and the associated wildlife.

The other natural habitats are the chilly Arctic where the change in length of day and night is dramatic,

the wilds of Alaska where rivers freeze in the coldest months; a boggy mangrove in northern Australia – one season teeming with land animals, another with fish; then comes the Yellow Dragon Valley, home to some of China’s rarest animals including the giant panda.

The last stop is on the grasslands of the Kenyan Maasai Mara with its wonderful richness of awesome animals and plant life.

As in the oak tree’s location so it is with all the others: change is vital for survival and the Great Migration of the animals of the final location is, so we read, ‘one of the most dramatic events on Earth. For the animals, … a journey of life and death.’

Since the pandemic struck, I think huge numbers of us have become much more aware of the importance of nature in our lives: this book, with Clover Robin’s richly detailed illustrations and Hannah Pang’s factual text, sings that song loud and clear.

The Moon

The Moon
Hannah Pang and Thomas Hegbrook
Stripes Publishing

It was the non-scientific chapters of this superbly illustrated volume that attracted me most, rather than those on the space race, lunar exploration and moon missions.

Earth’s moon has inspired countless people – artists, poets, mathematicians, astronomers and a great many others have aspired to investigate it scientifically and some have even managed to pay it a visit. It’s truly a source of awe and wonder to us all, no matter what our predilections.

There is an enormous amount of fascinating information in this book published to coincide with the anniversary of the moon landing, as well as myths and legends, poetry, folklore and Thomas Hegbrook’s wonderful, wonderful full-page illustrations of such things as  the celebration of the Chinese New Year.

On this spread we learn that the festival was long ago a celebration of a successful harvest of wheat and rice, when food was offered to the moon; this has been celebrated since the Shang dynasty around 1600-1046BCE.
Other aspects of the celestial calendar are covered in this chapter including paragraphs relating to some religions that follow a lunar calendar including Buddhism, although I saw no mention of Hinduism.

The Moon features in many myths, some being concerned with the Man in the Moon; we learn of such from the Haida people who live on the Pacific coast of Canada; from Germany, including residents of Rantum a small village on the German island of Sylt. It’s said there, that the Earth’s tides are controlled by the Man in the Moon, a giant responsible for pouring water onto Earth creating high tides, and resting as the waters die down.
There are also many Moon Rabbit myths from as far afield as Japan, Korea and Africa.
I especially liked The Fox and the Wolf fable and the way it’s set within a beautiful moonlit scene.

Other parts I found fascinating were The Moon and our Bodies, sleep being one aspect affected by its cycle, as well as the chapter on how a full moon is thought to make people do strange things, even perhaps having an effect on such diverse things as the stock exchange and emergency service call outs.

Numerous artists have included the moon in their paintings. In traditional Chinese art it’s most often shown as a tiny object in the distance; whereas Japanese paintings frequently show a large, partially hidden moon.

Architects too have been inspired to use the moon in their building designs.

There is SO much to learn from this book but it’s impossible to cover everything in a review such as this. Instead I suggest you treat yourself to a copy of Hannah Pang and Thomas Hegbrook’s magnificent moon-filled compilation.

The River / Wilderness: Nature’s Wonders

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The River
Hanako Clulow and Patricia Hegarty
Caterpillar Books
‘In snow-capped mountains among the firs/ The north wind blows; something stirs./ Through icy water, a small fish darts -/ This is where her journey starts …
We join that shimmering, glimmering fish as she journeys down river starting from the snow-capped mountain peaks, swishing past dense mountain woods …

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and pine forests, through ever-changing landscapes as she travels by day and night …

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and through the seasons, on her epic swim to the vast, deep open sea ‘where she’s meant to be!’ – a sea populated by a shoal of sparkly fish.

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Readers delight in joining the fish on her journey, making her swim faster or slower by tilting and angling the book, viewing her as an ever-in-motion hologram (set inside the back cover) through a die-cut hole that keeps her, mid-stream, on every spread. Read it first to play with the fish and then turn back and re-read the whole, savouring Patricia Hegarty’s lyrical rhyming text and being spell-bound by the wonderful wildlife scenes rendered in soft, matte textured, illustrations. The richly detailed, painterly style shows feathers and fur as if close up …
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as well as the gorgeous hues of the surrounding flora of the landscapes.
What a superb testament to one particular river, and to the rich abundance of flora and fauna through which it flows and of course, to one little fish on its migratory journey. SO much to see, SO much to think about, SO much to relish.

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Wilderness
Hannah Pang and Jenny Wren
360 Degrees (a Little Tiger imprint)
Subtitled ‘An Interactive Atlas of Animals’ this has visual appeal in bucket loads and it’s highly informative too. It introduces readers to a variety of habitats in both Eastern and Western Hemispheres and then focuses on different habitats in turn allocating a double spread to each one. We embark on a tropical rainforest ramble (visiting various locations as not all the animals featured are found in the same part of the world),

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a safari in the hot grassy savannahs of Africa, join an ocean dive and search, visit a freshwater location, the desert dunes, polar regions and high mountain pastures and forests, complete with pop-up mountain …

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Snippets of information abound on every location spread and there are flaps to lift enabling readers to discover more about the various animals resting upon them; there are even mini booklets on Bugs, Creatures of the Deep, the Honeybee and the salmon life-cycle.

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There’s a tiny life-cycle book on the left …

So, we have some desert dunes populated by Arabian camels, Addax (rare creatures also called Screwhorn antelopes), a vulture, a Namib Dune Gecko, a rattlesnake that leaves tell-tale tracks in the sand, hairy, scary giant scorpions and tarantulas; and there’s a side wheel which when turned shows the enormous range of temperatures of the habitat. (sub zero at night and 45 degrees C at mid-day).

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Rotating wheel top left …

Chock-full of details, rich in the colours of mother nature’s palette, and sturdily designed and built to withstand frequent handling, this is one to engender a sense of awe and wonder about the natural world, and highly recommended for the family bookshelf and a must-buy for early years and primary school classroom.

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