A First Book of Nature

May 3, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Posted in Learning Stuff | 2 Comments
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Today was the official launch of a beautiful new book that admirably continues the tradition of Enid Blyton’s Round the Year and other nature books. A First Book of Nature is written by Nicola Davies and illustrated the wonderful Mark Hearld. Hearld is one of the group of artists with a close affiliation to the fine St Jude’s Gallery which is situated in my home country of Norfolk.

Hearld works in printmaking, collage, painting and ceramics and uses birds, animals, flora and fauna in his work. Pigeons and hares seem to recur quite a bit and A First Book of Nature features these and much more.

The book travels through the year with hares, birds’ nests and blossom in the spring; honey and hay-making in the summer; ‘spiderlings’ and squirrels in the autumn; and naked winter trees and cold dark skies filled with stars in the winter. It is less didactic than Blyton’s books (which are full of projects and classroom exercises) but there are little poems, lists of reasons to keep chickens (‘they look very silly when they are taking a dust bath’), a recipe for making a cake for birds and instructions on seed saving.

To celebrate the book’s publication, Foyle’s bookshop is holding an exhibition of Hearld’s original art works for the book in its 3rd floor gallery until the 13th May. If you’re in town I highly recommend stopping by to take a look (and browsing the book too).

While I’m on the subject of nature illustration, I have to take this opportunity to post up some of Eileen Soper’s work. She usually appears on this blog through her Famous Five illustrations (and with thanks to the Enid Blyton Society who make these images available on their very good site) but she was also a dab hand at nature drawing too. Both of these are available to buy online. The top one is titled ‘Who-Who-Who-Who?’, the bottom one ‘Woffly the Rabbit and Quick Ears the Hare’ (and we all know whose nose is a ‘a bit woffly’, don’t we?!  – see The Famous Five in Love if not).



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  1. Lovely images – I like the modernised nostalgic feel of Mark Heard’s work. I shall check out the exhibition.

  2. Hope you enjoy! And St Jude’s in the City will be showing work by Mark Hearld, Emily Sutton (also brilliant) and Angie Lewin (yes, also brilliant too) from 23rd May – 2nd June on Tottenham St, WC1.

    Thanks also for the Dedham tip – as soon as the weather improves!

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