Friday, November 11, 2016

PPBF: Welcome To New Zealand. A Nature Journal

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Welcome to New Zealand, by Sandra Morris
"A guide to recording amazing discoveries in your own backyard."
Welcome to New Zealand,
A Nature Journal

Written and illustrated by Sandra Morris
Candlewick Press, 2015
Grades 3-7, 48 pp, Lexile 920

Nature, Art, Nonfiction

       Nature is full of surprises. To discover them, all you need is curiosity and sharp eyes. Have you ever noticed that ladybugs have different numbers of spots? Or that leaves can be pointed or round, long or short, soft or hard? What about birds? Could you describe the bills or feet of the species you see every day?
       Keeping a nature journal is a great way to develop your observation skills. It will help you learn to look closely at the amazing natural world around you!

Morris uses the landscape of New Zealand to inspire young readers to inspect and catalog the world around them. The book beckons readers to become observers, looking up to the skies, down to the weeds, and out to the birds in the trees. Her soft watercolor sketches and pencil drawings bring the details of nature up-close. She explores the diversity in her own native surroundings, all the while encouraging readers to do the same in their own neighborhoods.

What I Love:
I thought this was a New Zealand encyclopedia, but it is much more an exploration of creative observation. Just a cursory glance at the pages made me want to run outside with paper and pencil. It had the same reaction in the kids I showed it to. An indefinable something make the subject attainable to even the most fledgling creative. Is it the honesty in the drawing? The unassuming tone of the design? The straightforward text? Or perhaps the sheer beauty in the shape of a beech twig or the color of a scallop shell.
The title may be misleading, but the subheading, A guide to recording amazing discoveries in your own backyard, is apt. I'd love to see the author explore this format in other locations, with new instructions and ideas for journaling.

Super Healthy Kids
Ultimate Trail Mix Guide
1. Read the review by a 12 yr old named Maia on We Love Books. Or a glowing review from Bookology. ILA recommends it as one of the best science books of 2015.

2. The Handbook of Nature Study has a thorough guide to teaching children to keep a nature journal, step-by-step, with free downloads, and includes links, monthly activities, and student examples. Need more help getting started? Download the journal template from Sierra Club.
3. Science teachers should find the resources they need on  Exploring Nature, over 5.000 pages of activities, diagrams, investigations, and worksheets.
4. I learned to draw nature from illustrator Jim Arnosky. He taught me to observe the different patterns of falling leaves, the shape of dripping water, the light and shadows produced on a river's current. His website includes links to his own travel journals, drawing lessons, science books, coloring pages, and more.
5. Carol Coogan is another artist / backyard naturalist. Explore her work for kids on her website or in an interview titled, "Getting Your Kids Out Drawing From Nature" on Wired.
6. Need more inspiration? I also recommend exploring The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady and the journals of Beatrix Potter.
7. The Magnifying Glass has compiled a checklist she uses with her own kids, and Stories and Children has published a personal approach to getting your kids to explore the outdoors.
8. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Julie
Reviewed by Beth

Reviewed by Barbara
Reviewed by Julie

Reviewed by Sue
Reviewed by Kirsten

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Susanna
Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for Friday, November 11, 2016 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Note: I received a review copy of Welcome To New Zealand to read for the Cybils Award judging. No other compensation was received. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s
16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


  1. This book looks wonderful! Thanks for sharing it - I am definitely going to look for it.

    1. I think it will be a very inspirational book for kids and I hope the author makes more in the series. Let me know what you think. Thanks.


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