How to be a Wildflower: A Field Guide
by Katie Daisy

Chronicle Books, 2016. ISBN 978-1-452-14268-5.
Reviewed by Mary Ann Moore
Posted on 05/31/2016

Nonfiction: Creative Life; Nonfiction: Nature/Place/Environment

"I meander down the path between cornfield and fence, my daily ritual," Katie Daisy writes in the introduction to her field guide that invites readers to wander, gather, savor and ponder. "Meander" is such a good balm for these hectic times.

"The days are long," Daisy writes, "full of wonder, and the setting sun is not a marker of a day's work done but an invitation to explore the night." Daisy's meandering is taking place in Lindenwood, Illinois where she attempts to take the "wonderment of a rural afternoon ... and lace it into every choice of my adult life."

Although she now lives two thousand miles away from Lindenwood, Daisy remembers "the eyes I had as a child and how easily they perceived the magic of the world."

This beautifully illustrated book, is an invitation to perceive the magic of the world—in the book and outside. The illustrations have been painted with watercolours and acrylic paint with the use of mixed media.

"All good things are wild and free," Henry David Thoreau wrote. It's one of the illustrated quotes along with those of John Milton, Walt Whitman, Monet, Henri Matisse, Hafiz, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Langston Hughes. The quotes are inspiring in themselves and especially so with the floral embellishments Daisy has added.

Daisy has created lists such as what to include in a Wanderlunch and Magical Places to Visit. The places to visit are in various US locations such as the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur where you can "devour a book among the redwoods."

"Get lost in an unfamiliar town," Daisy writes in illustrated letters and lists Walnut, Iowa and Harrison, Maine among other locales.

To help wanderers name what they see, Daisy offers illustrations for leaf identification, fungi, moths, edible plants, birds, wildflowers, clouds and sea creatures in a tide pool.

On a two-page spread of four-leaf clovers, Daisy suggests you press your own.

Recipes include Lavender Simple Syrup to add to iced coffee or lemonade, Summer Mineral Bath, Strawberry Pie, Rhubarb Elixir and an omelette with morel mushrooms and fiddlehead ferns.

The drawings are an invitation to spending some time appreciating their artistry. I especially liked the pages of Spirit Animals including a fox, a horse and a bear.

One can't help but smile at the everyday pleasures Daisy reminds us of with her own blend of artistic talent, whimsy and reverence. We may no longer be children but we can become curious with that childlike sense of adventure, wonder and enthusiasm for what is all around us.

Katie Daisy was raised in Lindenwood, Illinois. She graduated from Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2009 and began a career as a freelance illustrator. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and baby son. There are images from and a trailer for her book on her website.

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