I came across Julia Rothman being stuck at home for months on end with a tween and a teen. While relatives have sent me books and punch needle supplies, my husband puzzles, and my daughter paints and canvases, my son has been harder to figure out. I mean, he could just play video games straight from March through whenever this pandemic ends, but that would not be wise. We have tried models, books (which actually does work, but only for the required hour per day), sketchbooks, and then sigh and kick him out the door to play by himself in the neighborhood, a sad figure with a net, on a bike, donning a mask. (Geocaching and hiking have also worked, but not in a constant stream and not actually in our house.) When I saw Ocean Anatomy and Nature Anatomy pop up on one of my frequent romps through Amazon, I thought perhaps they could draw his attention in a way that only National Geographic Kids has done. Then, when I realized Food Anatomy was a thing, too, I threw caution to the wind and spent my allowance on a copy. And some nail polish.
For sure, these are “extra” books. For the most part, they fit in the category of coffee table books, or maybe even bathroom books. They would be fun to leave out at a rental house. The illustrations are great. I appreciate both Rothman’s ability and her style. How can I describe the style? Vintage, domestic cartoon? Ink and watercolor? They’re not surprising; technically I could do them, myself. (Actually, now that I think about it, my illustration style is similar.) But they do have a nice, warm feel to them. They’re meant to by cute and a little funny. And coupled with all the bits and bobs of nature/food facts, these books are nice ones to have around.
Would you sit down and read them (asks the woman who reads cookbooks cover to cover)? Most likely not, though I have been reading Food Anatomy in spurts, before bed. I am using a bookmark. Would you reference them? You definitely could, though you wouldn’t find a depth of information as much as a few things to fill in an information gap, such as Short Order Egg Lingo or Parts of a Whale. In other words, these books aren’t comprehensive, they’re interesting and fun. It occurs to me that these books would be great on home school shelves and also on children’s books shelves. Not meant to be like Richard Scarry, they sort of are, anyhow. I could really imagine a grown up snuggled up with a kid and turning the pages, chatting and learning together.
You know what else they might be good for? As gifts for people who have everything (or at least everything they need). Well, anyway, if they have an interest in nature, marine biology, farms, or food. Because the series, so far, (packaged before Ocean as The Julie Rothman Collection) is:
- Nature Anatomy
- Ocean Anatomy
- Food Anatomy
- Farm Anatomy
More books by or illustrated by Rothman:
- Brick, Who Found Herself in Architecture (illustrator, picture book)
- Hello, NY
- Can I Eat That? (illustrator)
- What’s Cooking? (illustrator)
- Ladies Drawing Night
- Drawn In (contributing artist)
- The Where, the Why and the How (contributing illustrator)
- The Who, The What and the When (contributing illustrator)
- The Exquisite Book (collaboration with nine other artists)
- When Strangers Meet (illustrator)
- Design Sponge at Home (illustrator)
- Past & Present (illustrator)
- Book By Its Cover (blog)
I am most interested in checking out Ladies Drawing Night, Drawn In, The Where the Why and the How, The Who the What and the When, and possibly The Exquisite Book. Rothman’s books really vary in topic, but many of them revolve around art and even the artistic process. Rothman is also big on doing and even spearheading projects with other artists. She definitely seems like one to follow, if you find that sort of thing enjoyable. I do.
And I’ll be keeping Food Anatomy on a shelf in the kitchen, once I’m done “reading” it.