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Catherine Barr studied Ecology at Leeds University and trained as a journalist. She worked at Greenpeace International for seven years as a wildlife and forestry campaigner and has a long-running interest in environmental issues. While working as an editor at the Natural History Museum, she researched and wrote two major summer exhibitions: Dinosaurs of the Gobi Desert and Myths and Monsters. She is now a partner in communications company bwa design. She lives on a hill near Hay-on-Wye in Herefordshire with her partner and two daughters.
Young children are by nature curious about the world and how everything works, and this highly visual and beautifully designed picture book wonderfully explains some difficult scientific concepts by putting them in the context first of animals and nature and then of daily human lives. It also highlights how much of our learning comes from our senses and the challenge which Invisible Nature takes on so brilliantly is to explain things that we cannot see, feel, touch, hear or smell and yet which are a fundamental part of our everyday life. These include electromagnetism, microwaves, ultrasound, infrasound, ultra- violet and scents ( those that are beyond human perception but not that of an ant or an albatross) The author has declared her passion for presenting ‘ big issues for small people’ and the clarity of the text is well matched here by the colourful and detailed illustrations and page designs which engage and lead the eye through the explanation. One of the most fascinating images is at the end of the book where we see a human body and the impacts upon it of these invisible forces and you can see that some things pass through the body completely undetected – cosmic microwaves, radio waves and electromagnetism from the Earth. The reader will be awed and inspired to learn, for example, about ultra violet lichen which enable reindeer to find food in the dark Arctic winter or the magnetic map that migratory birds hold in their heads or be terrified by piranhas’ use of infrared to detect prey in murky waters. While the use of ultrasound by bats may be familiar it had certainly not occurred to this reader that this was how automatic doors function. This brilliant and enticing information book will attract a wide readership and certainly deserves a place in every library.