Monday, July 20, 2015

A New Zealand Nature Journal - Review and Giveaway!

I was really quite excited to do this review as we had this book out of our local library last year and loved it. I think most children are fascinated about the natural world around them, exploring their back yards. Finding wonder in the smallest bits of moss and insects, so it's great to capture that fascination and wonder in journal form.

This book by Sandra Morris showcases not only a great variety of things that can be captured, think flowers, phases of the moon, a zoo visit and changes in seasons etc, but also a variety of ways that these subjects can be recorded. Each page is beautifully illustrated with ideas to inspire.

There is valuable information about what to look out for when recording the natural world around you, like the anatomy of a flower, things that on first glance you might not notice to record.

After a quick flick through the kids were keen to start their own journals and set out to capture some of the natural things in our backyard.

I'm on the look out now for some smaller sized journals that I can keep in my bag along with some pencils so we can sketch on the go! I think we are all quite inspired to capture the world around us in ways that we hadn't thought of before.

Interview with Sandra Morris about A New Zealand Nature Journal

A New Zealand Nature Journal was voted by children all over New Zealand as a finalist in the Children’s Choice award Non-fiction category. Sandra Morris has been illustrating books for many years, and has a particular passion for nature, so it was wonderful to see this recognised. Our Booksellers NZ reviewer Maia Gasson, who was 12 years old at the time, said ‘Overall it is a lovely book and an excellent one for your young nature-lovers bookshelf.’
We asked her a few questions about how she went  about  narrowing down her ideas for the sketch-worthy natural items within A New Zealand Nature Journal, and what she would suggest as further reads for her young fans.
1.       As an author, you must have a lot of ideas floating around. How did you decide to write and illustrate this book in particular?
I decided to write and illustrate this book because I love sketching plants and animals outdoors. I have kept field sketchbooks for many years and when I discovered the work of two really great American Nature Journalists  (Hannah Hinchman and Clare Walker Leslie) I decided I wanted to work in this way  as well and  encourage children to see the world around them in closer detail and to see that they can do this even in their own backyard!
2.       What was your approach to illustrating this book?
My approach was to go to each of the environments covered and to record in as many different ways possible the elements and plants and wildlife I encountered there and then to create pages that were varied in treatment with different elements and compositions  and with a variety of hand rendered words.
3.        Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book?
The biggest challenge was to  cull - I had to delete some ideas as there just wasn’t enough room –I had so many ideas  we could easily have made it a bigger book.
4.       How did you tailor this book to the age-group it reaches?
It didn’t need much changing from my original sketchbooks as anyone can appreciate this sort of recording at whatever age.
5.       Who have you dedicated this book to, and why?
This book is dedicated to all my friends who come along with me on my sketching journeys. It is always lovely to share the moments with someone else.
6.       Can you recommend any books for children/young adults who love this book?
Books I would recommend are:  
  • How to be an Explorer of the World, by Keri Smith
  • Drawn to Nature, by Clare Walker Leslie
  • Learn to Draw Wildlife, by Peter Partington
  • Learn to Draw Birds, by Peter Partington
  • Keeping a Nature Journal, by Clare Walker Leslie
7. What is your favourite thing to do when you aren’t writing or drawing, and why?
My favourite thing to do if not writing or drawing is to go tramping or travelling- I don’t seem to get enough time for this these days!!
Sandra runs an illustration agency for NZ illustrators:
For another interview with Sandra, check this one out on Christchurch City Library’s website:   
Yesterday’s feature was New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame: 25 Kiwi Champions, by Maria Gill, which was featured on the Booksellers NZ blog:  Tomorrow’s feature will be the final non-fiction title, Waitangi Day: The New Zealand Story, by Philippa Werry. This will be featured at Barbara Murison’s blog site:

If you haven't been following along with the Book Awards blog tour you can catch up now! Click here and you can read all the other reviews.

After you've read the reviews take the time to vote, your child could win some fabulous books for themselves and some for their school too!

I have a copy of A New Zealand Nature Journal to giveaway to a reader. Just leave a comment in this post and you are in the draw. Open to NZ addresses only. I'll draw a winner next week, good luck!


  1. We would love to win, thanks Louana. X Jess and Bertie

  2. Ooh we'd love that book in this house! xo

  3. We would love to win that book, what a great place to record things in

  4. Looks a great book. It would be lovely to win.

  5. Oh, I used to work with Sanda, she is LOVELY! I've been dying to check out this book & so stoked to see she is a finalist in the NZ Book Awards, woohoo!

  6. This would be a treasure for our book shelf. Thanks for the review and chance to win. Love Nz books

  7. Comments are now closed, winner announced shortly.

  8. We've missed you too!! These photos are BEAUTIful! Esp. that butterfly pic. We had a pretty rough 2015 too, I was relieved when we clicked over into 2016! Here's hoping it's a good one for us all! xx

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