If we all approached drawing as a means of fixing a memory as opposed to creating a work of art, we’d do more of it and see more as a result.– Nancy Ross Hugo
If you want to spend time getting to know trees, begin your journey with
Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees by author and educator, Nancy Ross Hugo, and photographer Robert Llewellyn. Together they lure readers out of their reading chairs and take them outside to look at trees in a new way.
Hugo and Llewellyn accomplish this through their discussion of thirteen viewing strategies and by teaching readers how to look at leaves, flowers, cones, fruit, buds, leaf scars, bark and twigs. Llewellyn’s informative and beautiful photographs support Hugo’s text and helps readers zero in on the details they need to see.
This same attention to detail is applied to the tree profiles featured in the book. You don’t have to get too far with even the first tree profile to realize you’ve looked at trees all wrong and that you’ve taken them for granted.
As you know, we’re focusing on technology this month and how technology can be taken outdoors. Seeing Trees is a great example of how technology can be used to enhance our understanding of plants. Hugo and Llewellyn’s book is more than a print book. It is available in ebook format and as an interactive book. It is the interactive format I will focus on today.
The interactive version of Seeing Trees is available through Inkling, a Web-based service that is transforming how readers interact with books. They have eliminated the “book” part and focus on how users view and consume content on iPads, iPhones, MACs and PCs.
When visiting Inkling’s website, the first thing you’ll notice is that you can buy the individual chapters of a book for as little as $1.99. The second thing you’ll notice is that the books are interactive and much more than simply a print book in a digital format. The types of interactive components vary among books. In the case of Seeing Trees, readers will find images they can enlarge, words they can highlight and define, and will enjoy the ability to conduct an in-depth search around a specific word. In the introduction section of the Inkling version, there is also a video about how the book was made and how Llewellyn’s approach to photographing this book was inspired by the botanical illustrators of long ago.
Other interactive features of Seeing Trees include:
- A slideshow of Japanese maple leaves (Acer palmatum and A. japonicum)
- A slideshow of sweetgum leaves (Liquidambar styraciflua)
- A slideshow of twigs from 14 species of trees.
- Links to resources about plants and trees
- A feature enabling readers to watch fruit development in Liquidambar styraciflua.
While the trees in this book are common to the East Coast, this does not take away from its effectiveness as a tool for seeing. The viewing strategies Hugo and Llewellyn recommend can be applied to any tree (and any plant) regardless of one’s geographic location.
The Inkling edition of Seeing Trees is available for $16.99. The chapter price for this title is $4.99 per chapter.