Review of ‘Botanicum Activity Book’
My lovely neighbour Dr Sam continues to write some beautiful reviews for Children’s Books Daily and this one is no exception! I love the ‘Welcome to the Museum’ series and they have been ‘coffee table books’ in my house for many years now. Botanicum is possibly my favourite due to my deep love of plants and I have the poster book in the school library for displays. The activity book has been so enjoyed by ChickPea and Dr Sam Lloyd and her children have discovered it also. Colouring/activity books are brilliant for literacy/art links and for, as Sam says, a time of quiet reflection and mindfulness. Thank you Sam for your review, you can see all Sam’s Science based reviews by searching her name or clicking on her category tag on this page.
HOWEVER I’m also incredibly chuffed to say that Sam is starting her own venture – that of reviewing science and nature books! Her wonderful tag line is ‘growing little minds into big thinkers’ – our future needs those big thinkers, especially when it comes to conserving our planet. Go and follow Dr Sam Lloyd on Instagram here as she builds her profile and uses her INCREDIBLE science brain for good!
Title: ‘Botanicum Activity Book’
Reviewer: Dr Sam Lloyd
Author/Illustrator: Katie Scott and Kathy Willis
Publisher: 2017 Big Picture Press in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Age Range: late primary through to adult
Themes: Colouring/activity book, botany, flowers, mindfulness, science.
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‘Botanicum – Activity Book’
by Katie Scott and Kathy Willis
The Botanicum Activity Book accompanies the highly successful book Botanicum (by the same curators) and is part of the Welcome to the Museum series. Over the past few years there has been an explosion in colouring and activity books for older children and adults. I first rediscovered colouring about 10 years ago when I did a mindfulness course. The fantastic program Smiling Mind define mindfulness colouring as “…bringing our awareness into the present moment by consciously focusing on colour and design”. Ever since I started, I have found colouring and sharing colouring with my children very valuable. That’s not to say it happens often, but whenever I sit down to colour and the kids are around they always come over to join me.
More than Colouring!
What I really like about the Botanicum Activity Book is that it’s much more than just colouring – it has an engaging selection of creative and artistic botanically based activities. Moreover, its appeal is broad, to children (late primary – high school) and adults alike. Besides colouring, Botanicum includes ‘spot the difference’ pictures, lots of drawing opportunities, including pages where you are shown how to draw certain plants and using a grid to draw the others and pages with ‘match the plant’ to the correct seed, region and the type of food produced etc. What I also like about Botanicum is the challenge – not just the challenge of drawing accurately, but the botanical challenge of some of the activities, making the book more interesting than most.
Artistically the book is filled with beautifully detailed botanical drawings and pictures with perfect colour and depth. The paper quality is ideal for working on and it has a very solid cardboard backing making it excellent for travel and small people who like to steal their parents colouring books! My favourite pages/activities were (and you can see some of my efforts):
- Alpine habitat Spot the Difference;
- “Finish the Leaves” grid drawing where they gave you one half of the leaf and you draw the other half with the grid to help improve accuracy…you can see my attempt at the broadleaf maple here:
- Below ground plant/vegetable colouring, which I did with my kids; and
- “Match the carnivorous plants to the way they catch their prey” – these pictures are great and I do love a good discussion about predatory plants!
A Note on Mindfulness, Colouring and Activity Books
I found the following references interesting and useful:
- Smiling Mind: fantastic app and website with loads of mindfulness information and resources.
- Headspace: this is a brilliant mental health, meditation and mindfulness website and app (although I do think the app is quite expensive).
- Paperbark Writer: this is the creative genius of artist and ecologist Paula Peeters. Paula offers loads of nature based creative inspiration, but the nature journaling is completely beautiful. “Nature journaling is the practice of drawing or writing in response to observations of nature”. She has self-published “Take this Book for a Walk”, which is a step-by-step guide to nature journaling and runs workshops. Her book “Make a Date with Nature”, which is an introduction to nature journaling is free to download via the link.
Dr Samantha Lloyd
Dr Samantha Lloyd is an ecologist and environmental manager with a passion for the Australian bush, children’s literature, dance, music and baking. Sam firmly believes in the value of engaging environmental and science-based children’s literature to nurture children’s insatiable curiosity and their need to understand why things are the way they are. Sam is keenly focused on growing little minds into big thinkers.
Sam graduated from the University of Wollongong with a Bachelor of Science (Biology) and a PhD (pollination ecology) in 2006 and has worked as an environmental manager and an entomologist. Sam’s ability to interpret and critically evaluate science-based publications for children has led her to be the chief children’s science reviewer for award winning website Children’s Books Daily and for the Ecological Society of Australia.
Sam’s favourite authors and illustrators include Arthur Rackham, Roald Dahl, May Gibbs, C.S Lewis, Brian Froud and Mem Fox. Sam lives in beautiful Brisbane with her husband, two young children, one dog and five chooks.