Drawn from Nature

Happy April! Happy National Poetry Month! I’m planning on reviving my long-neglected blog this month with reviews of picture books, and use them as springboards for my own writing. One of the benefits of being a judge for the Cybils poetry award is that I’ve received a few new picture books to review. This week I’d like to introduce you to a favorite.

Have you ever flipped through the pages of a new book and been astonished at what the author created? That’s what the experience of looking at Drawn from Nature was for me. The book features intricate collages of plants and animals, each made from hundreds of pressed leaves and flowers. This visual feast is arranged as a journey through the seasons, beginning with the spring bird chorus, travelling through summer meadows and autumn fruits, and ending with a winter night. I can’t imagine the patience required to assemble these collages into creatures and scenes that seem to fly off the page. Take a look at this handsome owl (my scanning skills are not the finest, so you really need to view the book to get the full impact!)

Or this stunning fox:

The book opens with the sound and sight of early-morning birds singing to establish a territory and attract a mate. I hesitate to pair the visual beauty with my words. But since one of my goals in reviewing is to motivate my own writing, I’m giving it a try. Here’s a draft of a poem about the male Red-winged blackbirds that recently returned to Michigan. They squawk at my feeder in the morning and evening, when they are taking a break from setting up territories in the swamp that borders our yard.


Spring Soldier

Wearing his sleek black uniform
he proudly parades his rank
with epaulets adorning his shoulders,
red as pressed maple leaves
fringed with aspen yellow.

His wardrobe for the new season
dazzles with the brilliance of autumn’s past.

Guarding his garrison,
he halts each enemy incursion.
Spread wings and flicked tail announce
my branch, my tree,
as he patrols his borders,

commanding, calling, brawling,
conk-a-ree, don’t mess with me!
–©Buffy Silverman, 2018

Find Drawn from Nature at your library or bookstore and prepare to savor it and be inspired (thanks to Candlewick Press for sharing it with me) or check it out here. This is a book I would have pored over for hours when I was a kid, and then pressed some treasures and tried to make my own collages. Speaking of folks who like to make things, be sure to visit Amy at The Poem Farm who is hosting all of today’s poetry-month goodies.

26 thoughts on “Drawn from Nature

  1. Michelle Kogan

    Thanks for sharing this gorgeous book with us Buffy–I love the art and the writing.
    I like your “don’t mess with me!” that fits a red winged black bird perfectly!

    Reply
  2. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    “with epaulets adorning his shoulders,
    red as pressed maple leaves
    fringed with aspen yellow.”
    I just saw the Red Winged Blackbirds here too…I love their flashes of color; you capture them beautifully.

    And now…to buy a book. Thank you for this treat!

    xx

    Reply
  3. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    “with epaulets adorning his shoulders,
    red as pressed maple leaves
    fringed with aspen yellow.”
    I just saw the Red Winged Blackbirds here too…I love their flashes of color; you capture them beautifully.

    And now…to buy a book. Thank you for this treat!

    xx

    Reply
  4. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

    I agree, the artwork is spectacular. (That owl is exquisite!) You collage just as beautifully with your words, Buffy. I love the sleek black uniform with the flashy red and gold epaulets and his commanding personality too! I can easily imagine what a fuss they must make in your neck of the woods.

    Reply
  5. Kay Jernigan McGriff

    Wow! That artwork is stunning. I could pore over it for hours now. Thank you for sharing it with us. Most of the birds in our yard are not as showy as your red-winged blackbird with his epaulets, but I do enjoy their chorus!

    Reply
  6. Linda Mitchell

    Oh, my! What a stunning collection. I simply have to have this book. You had me at that first collage…and then the second. Wow! I’ve been itching to try my hand at collage for a while now. I’m not sure how to start….except to jump in and keep trying new pieces until I get what I’m itching to create. This book is definitely inspiration for visual and word. Thank you!
    And….
    Spring Soldier is wonderful. I love how the colors of spring are from last fall and the militant tone of marked territory. I’ll bet my middle schoolers will love this one.

    Reply
  7. Linda Baie

    It truly is a masterpiece of a book, Buffy. I have a box of pressed flowers, and wonder. . . The only thing I’ve ever done in the past is pressed maple leaves & turned them into people.

    Reply
    1. Buffy Silverman Post author

      We must be on the same reviewers list–that’s a treat I didn’t expect! I press leaves every year, and have made designs on them with sharpies and then covered with modge-podge. Would be fun to make people with them too.

      Reply
  8. Kate

    Have I told you my red winged blackbird story yet? When Tae was around 4, one day in early spring he went outside and came running back inside saying, “Mama! The birds are laughing!” I went out to find out what he heard. The red wings were back!

    Reply
  9. jama

    Wow — those collages are incredible! Thanks for the heads up about this book. Love your poem about the red-winged blackbirds. They do resemble soldiers with epaulets on their shoulders!

    Reply
  10. Karen Finch

    So cool to see this, Buffy! Gorgeous and unusual artwork always gets me. Putting this on a wants list for sure. And your “Spring Soldier” poem…. a little gem! Thank you!

    Reply
  11. Janet F.

    This books looks incredible. I need to buy it, forget the library. I will lose myself in it and pass it on to my grandkids. What a treasure. I am so glad you are doing this, Buffy.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Me

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.