Slow Down: Bring Calm to a Busy World with 50 Nature Stories

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Rachel Williams (text) and Freya Hartas (illustrator), Slow Down: Bring Calm to a Busy World with 50 Nature Stories, Magic Cat Publishing, April 2020, 128 pp., RRP $29.99 (hbk),  ISBN 97819161805121 

This book is beautifully presented with its textured hard cover and embossed gilded title. Its aim is to encourage readers to find time to stand, stare and discover the slow changes which happen in nature. Each double page focusses on one everyday event as the natural world transforms across seasons. The Contents page lists each of the events and the Index breaks the divisions down further. There are suggested web sites to explore for Further Reading and there is a Bibliography. Most are northern hemisphere oriented. 

The Australian reader will find that some of the animals are not found in the southern hemisphere but the concept of stopping to look is as applicable. I would have liked a different organisation because while reading I felt that the topics jumped around a lot. For example, a bat hunting is followed by a rainbow appearing, followed by a fox eating berries and then a snowflake falling. This may have been intentional so that each page was a new discovery. Each double page is largely illustration, differently placed, with unframed blocks of illustration over the page, including the concept of ‘white space’ and each one captioned. 

There are three fonts used. All are quite dense in format. The Contents, Index, Further Reading and Bibliography all use upper case only which makes them less accessible to younger readers. The font size used for all the captions is quite small, probably so that all the information will fit. It’s good to see that there are complex scientific concepts included.  

This book would be a useful addition to libraries, while remembering its northern hemisphere bias. 

Reviewed by Maureen Mann

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