A Closer Look — Perfect Picture Book Friday

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.”



  1. This is an interesting and fun book for young kids. Interesting to that we both picked gardens and flowers as our choice of picture book this Friday. I loved the links, thankyou Beth.

    1. Thanks, Diane!

  2. Cool! I like the idea of this book!

  3. what a fun idea! and the hummingbird illustration is so lovely. I wish I had flowers like that in my garden. I have some red flowers that always attract hummingbirds and it is always so much fun for me (and the kittehs) to watch them.

    1. Oh, lucky you to have hummingbirds to watch! (I bet the kittehs *do* love watching them!)

  4. Fun! That sounds great for adults and children.

    1. It is, indeed.

  5. Sounds like a great book to enhance a child-like appreciation of nature. Great pick!

    1. Thanks, Angela. Definitely gets a person looking closer!

  6. I love the idea that this book is going to heighten more than one sense in the listener/looker!

    1. Especially so if the reader takes the time to think along those lines. Thanks, Joanna!

  7. This sounds great, Beth. I love books that get kids to think differently about things. Have you seen the book Actual Size by Steve Jenkins? It’s so fascinating.

    1. Thanks, Carrie. I’ve heard about Actual Size — I must check it out!

  8. Just checked out her website – lovely stuff! Great lookin’ pick Beth!

    1. She does amazing work. Thanks, Julie!

  9. This looks like a fascinating little book! We are very much into ladybugs here. I’m anxious to get a real look at the real book! Thanks for the discovery.

    1. Thanks, Janet. If you’re into ladybugs, this book will be a charmer!

  10. My children love books like this. They can look at them for hours. Thanks for this recommendation, Beth!

    1. You’re welcome, Kirsten! Hope your kids enjoy the book.

  11. Paper collage is so beautiful when it’s done well. I think my Arthur would love this one because of the lovely details. Thanks so much for sharing it,. Beth!

    1. Oh, good — hope Arthur likes it! You’re welcome… and thank you, Heather!

  12. Ooh, this looks wonderful, Beth! I love the description, and the whole idea of looking closely. I bet there are a lot of kids who would really love poring over this one. Thanks for adding it to our list! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Susanna! I would have liked it as a kid, I’m sure.

  13. This sounds like one of those books that will be pulled off the shelf over and over again. I hope our library has it!

    1. Thanks, Penny! I was glad our library had it, hopefully yours will too!

  14. This sounds like a keeper. Looked at the author’s website — wanted to see the photo. I love beautiful books that make kids think. This one will certainly have a long shelf life. Great choice.

    1. Thanks, Pat. I find it hard to believe that the illustrations are paper collage, especially the hummingbirds and the full garden.

  15. I’ve been studying paper collage illustrations. So, I’m looking forward to this one. I’m sure Enzo will like it too.

    1. Thanks, Stacy! I think Enzo will particularly like the ladybug!

  16. What a perfect choice for PPBF, Beth! Thank you for sharing it…I think the idea of having to look at something from different perspectives is a wonderful lesson for kids (and adults). 🙂 And your resource and activity list is fantastic!!!

    1. Thank you so much, Vivian!

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