Anna Carlile’s book accomplishes an impressive merging of style and substance; at first glance stunning and evocative photography draws the reader in yet suggests that this is nothing more than a walk in the woods in coffee-table reading form. However, on full immersion into the (admittedly slightly hard-on-the-eye) text and projects Carlile has brought together, one begins to really get excited about the possibility for bringing nature into our lives which she champions; the ‘wild fun’ she talks about consists of finding ways to connect with the natural world every day, even if, as she does, we live in the city.
The book, as many of its kind tend to be, is sectioned according to the passage of the seasons. Scattered with inspirational literary quotes: “Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience” (Emerson); “Walking…is how the body measures itself against the earth” (Solnit), it is a reminder of how we interact with nature through language to give new meaning and intimacy to our relationship with our environment. A combination of these quotations brought together would make an interesting stimulus for a discussion on the ways we talk about nature in literature, and perhaps could provide the jumping off point for students to explore writing creatively about nature themselves.
History of how people have created folklore inspired by nature is also woven through the projects Carlile showcases; she explores ‘weatherlore’ in a stunning four page spread on learning to read the clouds, and traditional meanings associated with different flowers are included in her instructions on making a ‘tussie mussie’.
Many simple art projects – making wall hangings, painted stones and sticks, and dream catchers – are presented with comprehensive instructions and provide easy ways of combining a class art activity with a trip outside the classroom, or vice versa. In summary, this is fundamentally a stunning book which will re-inspire a love for nature and a desire to share its joys.
365 Nature: Projects to Connect you with Nature Every Day. Anna Carlile. Hardie Grant Publishing. Hardback, pp240. ISBN 13-9781741174649. Available from Amazon, £25.00