top of page

The Picture Book Buzz

Mimic Makers - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Even wonder what inspired Velcro or how birds inspired helicopters and planes? For years, inventors have mimicked what they saw in nature. Even now, scientists and inventors around the world continue to look to nature for solutions to generating water or improving crops. This beautiful STEM book looks at ten of these scientists and their remarkable inventions.

Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventions Inspired by Nature

Author: Kristen Nordstrom

Illustrator: Paul Boston

Publisher: Charlesbridge (2021)

Ages: 7-10


Nature inspired inventions, creativity, and problem solving.


Who's the best teacher for scientists, engineers, AND designers? Mother nature, of course!

When an inventor is inspired by nature for a new creation, they are practicing something called biomimicry. Meet ten real-life scientists, engineers, and designers who imitate plants and animals to create amazing new technology. An engineer shapes the nose of his train like a kingfisher's beak. A scientist models her solar cell on the mighty leaf. Discover how we copy nature's good ideas to solve real-world problems!

Opening Lines:

How does a kingfisher dive into the water without a splash?

Why are a whale’s flippers bumpy?

Why do maple seeds twirl when they fall?

How does a gecko walk on walls?

Mimic makers wonder how nature works. They learn from

living things such as animals, plants, and fungi. They mimic,

or copy, good ideas to create useful inventions.

What can you learn from the living world? What can you

invent? Be inspired by these mimic makers!

What I Liked about this book:

This is a wonderful book which explores eight inventions by a range of STEM professions - architects, botanists, biologists, numerous engineering fields, microbiologists, and zoologists. Inventions which resulted from scientists who observed and imitated nature in designing their solutions.

The book establishes a conversational tone by opening with questions of how nature works, and then asking the reader to think about what they themselves can invent. Then, for each invention, Kristen Nordstrom begins with a simple, succinct encapsulation of the invention - "A Bullet Train with a Beak" - almost like a chapter heading. Then she explains the issue, explores nature's response to similar issues, introduces the scientist, and explores their invention. [Though not always in this particular order]. The text, in bite-sized nuggets, maintains the conversational tone and tends to be on the outer edges of amazing two-page spreads.

Text © Kristen Nordstrom, 2021. Image ©Paul Boston, 2021.

Paul Boston's gorgeous, vibrant illustrations capture the movement and intricacies (down to the microcellular level) of the processes (symbiotic fungus) or structures (the sleek narrow beak of a kingfisher) that the scientists observed. His detail is stunning and there is so much in each image to linger over and discover in multiple reads. And, on nearly every page, he's included kids exploring and preparing to design their own amazing creations.

Text © Kristen Nordstrom, 2021. Image ©Paul Boston, 2021.

I love that Kristen focused on big engineering design projects (train engineering) and renewable energy resource projects (wind turbines, fresh water, and solar power). As well as tiny microcellular projects ("Sharklet" and fungus) and even useful gadgets (whirligig & "Geckskin"). She included projects that have been completed successfully and others that are still 'works in progress.' 'There's a real diversity in both the scientific fields and the issues being worked on.

Text © Kristen Nordstrom, 2021. Image ©Paul Boston, 2021.

In addition, Kristen featured projects and scientists from around the globe. And Paul depicted the scientists with a diversity of ages, races, and genders. Definitively driving home that as a human race, we got ourselves into this ecological muddle and it will take all of us to get out of it. We all, and especially our children, need to "wonder, investigate, and learn from the living world." Kristen's ending is perfect and inspiring.

An evaluation of the scientific professions highlighted, photos and brief descriptions of the featured scientists, additional information about biomimicry, activities, and extensive additional resources round out this wonderful STEM picture book. While this book will surely engage young readers, it is also a wonderful book to help encourage kids to observe, question, and begin experimenting with their own mimicry of nature.


- make a paper plane that flies like a bat, a bird, or a butterfly.

- can you think of other examples of biomimicry? Such as sonar based on bat echolocation.

- how would you use something an animal or plant does to solve a problem? Design or draw your invention.

- watch the Museum of Design's (MODA) videos and their Biomimicry Design Challenge (

If you missed it, be sure to check out Monday's interview with Kristen Nordstrom (here) and also her interview on Kathy Temean's blog (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

Follow Me

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • 1473394675_goodreads
  • Pinterest



bottom of page