Reviews /

Slow Down and Be Here Now

Authored by Laura Brand
Illustrated by Freya Hartas
Published by Magic Cat

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This second Slow Down book is designed to encourage young readers mindfully to observe a variety of different animals, insects and plants and their remarkable activities. Aiming to develop a focused approach to noticing the small events of nature, there are examples of a caterpillar making a leaf tent to shelter in and a woodlouse curling up to protect itself from predators – and many more small and fascinating acts of nature.

Alongside the description of each event are nuggets of scientific information, for example, how a frog catches a fly with sticky saliva that can be both a solid and a liquid – a ‘non-Newtonian fluid’ – and that woodlice breathe through ‘lungs’ on their legs and are, in fact, crustaceans. New insights into other natural phenomena include information about some flowers that only bloom in the dark and that sometimes six sided snowflakes combine to make twelve sided flakes.

Freya Hartas’ illustrations are informative and detailed and Laura Brand’s text follows each natural event as an evocative and atmospheric narrative addressed directly to the reader, complemented by inset fact panels. One small niggle is that the choice of font size means that young children would find it very hard to read independently. With a page suggesting further reading about how to promote mindfulness and an interest in nature, an index, and a poem by Mary Oliver as an introduction, this detailed book is one to be dipped into and shared with children from 5 years upwards and could lead to some enjoyable outings to slow down and observe nature.