All the bits of the natural world in Nature Anatomy


My children have a natural curiosity about living things that pushes me to seek the best science books for kids and I recently discovered one that combines science with breathtakingly beautiful graphic design.

Nature Anatomy by Julia Rothman is an illustrated book about all parts of the natural world. There’s everything from the anatomy of an ant and leaf identification to beautiful patterns in bark, the water cycle and phases of the moon. Rothman considers nature at every scale, beginning with the layers of Earth, landforms and weather patterns to the microscopic – the shapes of snowflakes, the spores of mushrooms and a bee’s antenna.


Although the focus is on North American species of plants and animals, the book is filled with so many wonderful and interesting details that its application is broad. Rothman’s illustrations are sensational – accurate (without being overly intricate), clear and colourful. The accompanying text is similar – succinct with the addition of interesting and perhaps lesser-known facts.


You may be wondering how this book differs from a text book? The illustrations are done in gouache and ink; every page includes interesting fonts and artful graphic design elements; and the page layout switches between lush double-page spreads (such as the explanation of how sunsets occur) to pages crammed with detail (identifying bugs and beetles or the patterns on bird eggs).


Dotted throughout the book are a handful of creative projects for the reader – landscape painting, leaf printing and some recipes. The suitability of the projects for kids would depend on their age but regardless, it’s the sentiment behind the projects that should be celebrated – science, art and design coming together.

Nature Anatomy is suitable for children five years and over. Although much of the text will be beyond young readers, the illustrations and diagrams are enough to keep children captivated – it’s certainly a book that will be referred to over and over. Find it online at Book Depository, which delivers free to Australia. Also available is Rothman’s earlier publication, Farm Anatomy.



Katrina Whelen

Katrina studied planning and design, did the hard yards working in a big office building and then traded it all in for a relaxing (!) life at home with four children. She now fills her time with writing, completing a degree in genetics and taxiing her children around Melbourne to their various sporting commitments (not necessarily in that order).

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