As I said in my post on Monday, October 1st, in which I celebrated the birthdays of nature lovers (and authors) Beverley Brenna, Julie Andrews, and Jimmy Carter, my Perfect Picture Book choices for the month of October will focus on nature, and on looking closely at the natural world around us. Appropriately, today’s choice is entitled A Closer Look.

Title: A Closer Look

Author/Illustrator: Mary McCarthy

Publisher: New York: Greenwillow Books, 2007

Genre: Picture book, Nature fiction

Audience Age: 3 to 8 years

Themes and topics: nature, looking closely, observation, flower gardens, ladybugs, hummingbirds

Opening Sentences: Look! What do you… see?

Synopsis: In three different scenarios, the reader is invited to look closely and try to determine what the illustration portrays. The first illustration is an extreme close-up, and it is impossible to tell. The next illustration shows a bit more of the picture, then finally the subject of the illustration is visible in its entirety. The illustrations are paper collage. An example may be seen at the artist/author’s website. The entire book invites children to look closely for all the details that might help identify what they are looking at. The final double-page spread shows an entire flower garden. The book concludes with a page that gives information about ladybugs, cardinal flowers, and hummingbirds, the main features of the illustrations.

Activities/Resources: This book is a lesson plan and activity in itself. Children (and adults) will enjoy examining the final spread carefully to see everything. They can count how many different types of flowers, how many bees, how many ladybugs. What colors do they see? What might the garden smell like? What would it sound like? If possible, it would be good to follow the reading of the book with a walk in a real flower garden, to observe the flowers, bugs and birds first hand.

There are several ladybug crafts and activities suggested at First School. I particularly like the first one, making a ladybug of heart shaped pieces of paper.

Hummingbirds lend themselves to learning experiences. They are fascinating to young and old alike. There are excellent resources to help children understand how tiny they are at Suite 101, as well as learning about what they eat, and even suggestions for pretending to be hummingbirds.

Making flowers out of paper seems appropriate, since the illustrations in this book are all paper collage. Busy Bee Kids Crafts shows ways to make a variety of paper flowers – all just waiting for paper ladybugs to land on them!

Availability: Readily available in hardcover.


Every Friday, bloggers join together to share picture book reviews and resources, thanks to author Susanna Leonard Hill’s brainchild, “Perfect Picture Book Fridays.” Susanna then adds the books (and links to the reviews) to a comprehensive listing by subject on her blog. Find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”


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