Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Still Counting . . .

You go outside as often as possible walking through woods, fields and along lakeshores.  Some of the trails you take are man-made, others are worn by use and there are those you design.  There are moments during these explorations when you stop.  You listen.  You look.  You smell. 

In these moments you understand you are embraced by a multitude of flora and fauna.  It's a humbling, exhilarating and comforting feeling.  It's an invitation to be a valued and trusted member of this vast community on our Blue Planet.  LOTS: The Diversity of Life on Earth (Walker Books, April 2017 UK, Candlewick Press, November 2017 US) written by Nicola Davies with illustrations by Emily Sutton is a tribute to the abundance we have and a call to action to preserve and protect it. 

How many different kinds of living things are there on our planet?


There are big animals like elephants (two kinds) and huge plants like oak trees (more than 600 kinds).  There are living things so tiny; they can't be seen with the naked eye.  It's astounding to know there might be 5,000 kinds of microbes in a single teaspoon of dirt.

Everywhere we venture or take a peek, whether it's dry or wet, embedded or on top of creatures or within a spot above the temperature of boiling life finds a way to thrive.  It may be challenging to find but people pursue the need to know.  Their discoveries help us to understand the complexity within a single fish or the difference found in two butterflies which look alike but are not the same.

There are lots and lots and lots of plants and animals.  There are so many we may never find all of them.  BUT

So far; human beings have
found and counted almost
two million different kinds
of living things.  

We have to keep learning all we can.  We are all continuously connected.  There is a problem, though.  It's a huge problem.  Humans are continuously damaging the connection.  There are signs of this wherever you are.  Every time something becomes extinct we all are the losers.  We want the numbers to climb higher every single time we count.  Let us never move in reverse.

With the books Nicola Davies pens the living world which envelopes us is brought into our presence.  In this title her language for even the youngest of readers is conversational but intentional.  She takes a vast subject, making it clearer and more meaningful.  Captions with the illustrations disclose further factual wonders.

All the creatures on this page have
been found in the last 50 years.

The detailed portrait of a place teeming with plants and animals on the front of the book case crosses the spine extending to the edge of the left of the back.  The girl seated with her clipboard and pencil is counting each valuable piece in this essential puzzle called life.  This scene, frozen in time, demonstrates the diversity shared within the book.  The opening for the title text is replicated on the back offering a short blurb about the title's contents.

On the opening and closing endpapers, in cream and teal, are etchings of all kinds of animals and plants from many of the classifications.  Another setting, a desert setting, spans the title page and verso page to the left.  The text is skillfully placed within the image without detracted from its splendor.  The girl, dressed in appropriate clothing for the desert, is walking from left to right.

The size of each illustration Emily Sutton creates is dictated by the text.  After the initial phrase and words, each visual depicts the myriad of plant and animal life in each portion of our world being discussed.  For many of them she gives us a panoramic view but for others she takes us close to the subject.  In the case of feather mites she shows us a parrot but next to the bird a close-up view of a single feather gives us a glimpse of the mites on this feather. 

The exquisite elements Emily Sutton includes will have you easily pausing for an hour or more on a single page or image.  You will be wondering about the name for each plant and animal.  You will be curious about where they are found. 

One of my many favorite illustrations accompanies the words

or the bottom of the coldest seas.

Along the top of the page are clouds in various shades of blue-green and an icy landscape.  Five penguins dive into the water in front of the girl.  She is wearing a suit and scuba gear.  In the beam of her flashlight the life along the bottom is more brilliant.  To the left and right of the beam, the floor is covered in plant and animal life.

Now more than ever it is critical to educate ourselves and the present and upcoming generations about the importance of Earth.  LOTS:  The Diversity of Life on Earth written by Nicola Davies with illustrations by Emily Sutton is a stunning representation of the life all around us.  We have a responsibility to give the planet our care.  It should be an honor to do so.  Every life depends upon this choice.  I highly recommend this title for your professional and personal collections.  I can see more research following the reading of this book.  In the United States this book is titled Many:  The Diversity of Life on Earth.  It was released in November of this year by Candlewick Press.  My favorite illustration can be seen at their website.

To learn more about Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton and their other work, please visit their respective websites by following the links attached to their names.  Emily Sutton maintains an account on Instagram.  Emily Sutton's work is featured on Jama Rattigan's Jama's Alphabet Soup.

You will want to stop by Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher to view the other selections chosen by bloggers participating in the 2017 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.


  1. Thanks for this wonderful, insightful review, Margie. I'm such a big Emily Sutton fan and can't wait to see this book. Sounds gorgeous!

    1. You are welcome, Jama. Your post about her work was beautiful. Perhaps you will find this title in your gifts this Christmas.

  2. It boggles my mind how many different kinds of creatures we share this planet with every day. This seems like an interesting book. Thanks!

    1. It is mind-bobbling Crystal. I think you and your students will find this useful. I believe it would be fun to identify the animals and do research on them.