Shapes & Patterns in Nature by Magdalena Konečná, Jana Sedlackova & Štěpánka Sekaninová

This gorgeous picture book is a riot of color and shape, feeling just as much art book as nature guide.

While ostensibly aimed at children, there’s so much for readers and art aficionados of all ages to savor in Magdalena Konečná’s dazzling illustrations, pleasingly arranged by shape and color around various biological/geological themes. The organization reminds me a bit of those challenges you occasionally see on social media, where artists practice drawing fifty or so discrete items in a category, e.g. animals or flowers, in one cohesive piece.

There are twelve main categories in the book, each spread across two pages that invite investigation and contemplation. The labels are great, but the pithy little paragraphs that accompany the images are decidedly not. Some of the word choices were head scratchers from the very beginning, with, for example, chameleons being referred to as monkeys: cute as a colloquialism, but out of place in a science book. Readers of most ages know, ofc, that lizards aren’t primates, but later paragraphs talk about insects’ noses, which is just one lax euphemism too close to misleading for me.

I really wish more rigor had been applied to the writing in this otherwise really beautiful book. While it’s a gorgeous volume that I’d happily hand over to any student of design, I’d hesitate to give it to anyone interested in the natural sciences, for fear they learned incorrect facts based on the romantic language used. Which is a shame, because the illustrations deserved to savored by all readers, not merely those who already have a firm grounding in science.

Shapes & Patterns in Nature by Magdalena Konečná, Jana Sedlackova & Štěpánka Sekaninová was published November 9 2021 by Albatros Media and is available from all good booksellers, including

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