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The Picture Book Buzz

Copycat: Nature Inspired Designs from Around the World - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Absolutely enthralled with this cover, probably because I love cats, I was curious to discover whether they actually were the inspiration for the reflective markers on roads. I discovered that answer and so much more in this stunning book which blends science, art, and poetry as it highlights inventions inspired by nature.

Copycat: Nature Inspired Designs from Around the World


Author/Illustrator: Christy Hale


Publisher: Lee & Low (2022)


Ages: 6-9


Nonfiction


Themes:

Biomimicry, nature, poetry, photography, and innovation.


Synopsis:

Illustrations of plants and animals and tanka poetry are paired with photographs of innovative inventions and designs found around the world to present captivating examples of nature-inspired design. A lotus leaf inspires the invention of the umbrella. A cat's eyes inspire the development of safety road reflectors. Discover how mimicking behaviors and strategies in nature lead inventors and designers to develop amazing new products, processes, and technologies that improve our lives and environment.


In this companion to her award-winning book Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building, Christy Hale has crafted an extraordinary collection that introduces readers to the surprising ways in which nature has sparked human creativity and innovation.


Come be inspired to explore--discover--create!


Opening Lines:

lotus leaf spreads wide

waxy surface repels rain

water beads and rolls

drips off an umbrella’s rim

below everything stays dry


What I LOVED about this book:

Christy did a fantastic job with the tanka poems connecting aspects or elements of nature to human inventions. As she mentioned in our interview on Monday (link), Christy utilized the tanka structure to create a bridge between the natural occurrences and the inventions. In the opening spread (text above), "water beads and rolls" both the lotus leaf and the umbrella. On each spread, the natural inspiration is shown in an illustration on the left and a photograph of the invention appears on the right. Each invention is then described by one brief, unobtrusive line at the bottom of the photographs - "UMBRELLA: Waterproof covering provides protection from rain."

Text & Image © Christy Hale, 2022.


Not only did Christy find fun and amazing connections between fifteen inventions and the natural phenomena which inspired them, some I'd never even heard of (fold-up car, flapping wind converter, or a smog-eating building shell), she also created all of the illustrations! Because the book focuses on nature and a Japanese poetic form, Christy used "woodgrain/wood knot textures" in all of the illustrations. When I discovered this, it was mind-blowing to look back through the book and focus on how the rain and wind, the texture of a dog's fur, or even these stalagmites are created with woodgrains!

Text & Image © Christy Hale, 2022.


The softly colored illustrations are simply stunning. Ranging from small delicate dragonflies and snails to half spreads of a termite mound and large octopus. And the photographs she discovered are just as tantalizing. And if that isn't enough to entice you to find this book, look at the amazing back matter.

Text & Image © Christy Hale, 2022.


The two double-page spreads not only recap the illustrations and photographs, but explore interesting natural facts, legends, and the inventors who designed these very helpful and life-saving creations. Further examining the connection between an aspect of an animal, plant, or habitat and the mimicking inventions found throughout the world (such as Slovenia, Chile, Zimbabwe, and Japan). The author's note, extensive list of sources, and a discussion of the tanka poetic form expands this book into a useful springboard for older (middle grade) students exploring biomimicry and poetry. This is a wonderful book kids and teachers will love for its science, poetry, and inventive engineering aspects. As well as it's celebration of creativity and fascinating art techniques. It's a joy to look at and an inspiration to explore nature for future solutions.


Resources:

- do you know of other examples? What about adhesives inspired by gecko feet, boat paint inspired by shark skin, or the live oaks ability to survive hurricanes?

- what animals or plants do you admire? What ideas do they inspire for creating new products or solving a problem? Draw your invention and describe how nature inspired it.

- check out the "Biomimicry Activity Packet" on Christy Hale's website.

- pair this with Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature by Kristen Nordstrom, illustrated by Paul Boston and Beastly Bionics: Rad Robots, Brilliant Biomimicry, and Incredible Inventions Inspired by Nature By Jennifer Swanson (for older readers).


If you missed the interview with Christy Hale on Monday, find it (here).


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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