Thus, going off of my small knowledge from school and interest in flowers, I was nervous to read what at first seemed like an encyclopedia of Prospect Park. I was quickly proved wrong when I read past the first few pages of Julia Rothman's book, Nature Anatomy. Through seven chapters I learned about mammals, insects, mountains, trees and much more. As a visual learner, seeing Julia's art really helped me to retain the information I was learning. Besides descriptions of sketches and some brief writing, most of the book is full of colorful drawings, diagrams, and dissections.
Ms. Rothman is an artist who illustrates and designs patterns for numerous magazines, books, and newspapers amongst other things in New York City. Along with Nature Anatomy, Julia has also written and illustrated Farm Anatomy and Food Anatomy, all books I look forward to reading! With the help of a friend, John Neikrasz, Julia writes and draws about the most basic aspects of nature that our society seems to be taking for granted. Whether it's the common earthworm, the anatomy of a leaf, or types of squirrels, Julia brings nature to life through an interactive experience on the page.
As an aspiring artist myself, this book was really fun to read. Nature Anatomy is the perfect mix of a sketchbook and a scientific guide. Julia also goes above and beyond by including some recipes that use the greenery she writes about. The guide also gives fun art ideas like painting landscapes and printing patterns of leaves. One of my personal favorites were step-by-step instructions on how to make homemade face masks out of dried kelp, aloe vera, and banana. Each chapter in the book covers some different aspects of nature. My favorite chapter was “Come Close,” where the reader takes a magnified look at the many insects and small plants that are rarely noticed. The chapter includes many annotated diagrams and some beautiful art of butterflies and flowers.
Near the middle of the book, there are two consecutive pages full of colorful butterflies that I loved! “Take a Hike” is another chapter that was very interesting. It focuses on trees, mosses, leaves, and my favorite...mushrooms! Aside from these chapters, there were many specific diagrams that really stood out to me. The anatomy of the jellyfish was really fun to look at because of how much their biology differed from the other organisms explored.
While reading the book, I found myself frustrated and confused by the topics Julia chose to explore, versus the topics that weren't. From reading the generally encompassing title, “Nature Anatomy,” I expected a broader range of living things. I was excited to read about my favorite animals in the oceans. However, some species, such as insects, were over-explored compared to marine life, which only occupied a short chapter in the book. Another, though smaller, complaint was the font in which Julia used to write much of the book. Despite its aesthetics, the script was very challenging to read.
Lastly, I don't think this book has an intended audience. In fact, it would be enjoyed by cooks, artists, scientists, and writers of all different ages! Though, as a tool for learning outside the classroom, I believe visual learners would most benefit from reading this book. I rate Nature Anatomy four out of five stars and definitely recommend it to creative minds of all ages!
Jaden Flach is 15 years old and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Art might be her favorite thing in this world. Painting is her escape from reality, and she hopes you enjoy her paintings as much as she enjoys creating them.
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