Tag Archives: nicola davies

the promise + seed bombs

promise_thumbThe Promise by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Laura Carlin (2013).

This one will wow you. At least it wowed me.

I consider it an urban fable. It takes a city we may know and exaggerates it, makes it grittier and citier and more desolate.


That setting, it makes people “as mean and hard and ugly as their city, and I was mean and hard and ugly too.”  This book is told in the first person, a narrator who is honest and flawed and who changes.



The title comes from a promise the narrator makes to an old woman she’s robbing, that she’ll plant what’s in the bag she’s stealing. And she does. The bag is full of acorns. She plants them and that is just the beginning.



She plants them everywhere.


“I pushed aside the mean and hard and ugly,

and I planted, planted, planted.”

Eventually, there are trees. Birds. The city changes. The people change. Everything changes.


“Trees and flowers, fruits and vegetables, in parks and gardens,

on balconies and rooftops.”

I’m a big fan of Laura Carlin‘s art. (See The Iron Giant or her other wonderful illustration work.)

And here, the artwork is magnificent, each spread totally new from the next. Each, an invention, a revelation. At first, muddy. Sad. Beautiful.



Tiny figures, large ones. Gray, gray, gray. Windows of buildings like thumbprints.



And then, color! Colored pencil drawings that are slightly raw and totally beautiful. Plants and birds and people intertwined.

Here’s Carlin talking about The Promise.


The narrator continues her work planting in cities far and wide. And then, when she confronts someone mean and hard like she was because of their setting, trying to steal her bag, she implores a promise.  Just like hers.


Thanks to Walker Books for images!




This book immediately made me think of seed bombs, which are perfect for Earth Day and Month and Spring! And guys, seed bombs are much prettier than when they first came on the scene! Really, really pretty. But, the result is even better: plants growing in hard, vacant spaces that need some life and beauty and green things. Just like in The Promise.


These are ones I really liked on etsy.


Seed bombs by Paper Sprouts.



Pastel heart-shaped ones from Wild Bloomers.



Wildflower variety by Renaissance Botanical. They look like speckled eggs!



There are even seed bombs that look like a box of chocolates from Garden bonbons.



Rainbow too! By Love By Bean.



Black ones filled with herb seeds from Plantables and Paper.



And this is what they look like when they start to sprout! Via Pulp Art.

There are beneficial bug-attracting seed bombs. The best bombs for each region of the U.S. The ones honey bees love.

But, hey, you could also make your own no-nonsense seed bombs!


tiny-creatues-picture-bookYou may want to check out another Nicola Davies book I’ve featured: TINY CREATURES: THE WORLD OF MICROBES.






tiny creatures: the world of microbes + microbe brooches!

tiny-creatues-picture-bookTiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton (2014).


Who knew a book about the tiniest organisms on earth could be so beautiful and fascinating? Nicola Davies did.

Get out your microscope because the illustrations are just as wondrous as the subject matter.





(click image(s) to enlarge)

Aren’t they wild and beautiful? Just seeing these images might make a future scientist out of a reader. (Or an artist.)


This picture book opens up a whole new world, one we never see but is always there. Yeah, microbes are small. So small “millions could fit on [an] ant’s antenna.” And on our own skin? Billions. More than all the people on Earth.

While this could have a major yuck factor, not with how it’s done here. The only factor I felt (and I’m kind of a germaphobe) was fascination. Plus, while some stuff microbes do is damaging (e.g. making us sick) most of their work described in this book is crucial and key.


Tiny inside1


Tiny inside2




Thanks to Walker Books for images!



I love it when I randomly come across something that fits perfectly with a picture book I admire. Enter the work of felt artist, Hiné Mizushima.

Get this: she’s created a series of giant felt microbes. It’s true! And they’re for sale in her etsy shop as wearable brooches! What better gift for the scientist in your life (or yourself)?! Complete with their own little petri dishes!! They. Are. Cute.

Mizushuima’s felted giant Daphnia remind me of adorned birds and reindeer all at once.






What first got you interested in microbes?

I’m not sure but the beautiful transparent models of microbes at American Museum of Natural History in New York in 1980s might have been the first things to get me interested.

Hiné Mizushima


What draws you to microbes as subjects?

They are pretty and look weird! I am always fascinated by old educational scientific stuff, so I wanted to make my own twisted little guys. I also just wanted to use petri dishes and specimen labels for my work!

—Hiné Mizushima



And if you want a giant paramecium, she’s got that as a beautiful brooch too! It’s just like the one pictured in the book except this one’s got sweet button eyes and looks a bit like a raincloud.



So remember, bacteria aren’t always bad! This book and these brooches say so.


To microbes! Show your appreciation by wearing one on your sweater!