Verdant Violet

by Deb on May 2, 2011

Post image for Verdant Violet

This was a find through Twitter, and I love it. How geeky cool is this – handmade baby cloth books on topics like molecular genetics, gastro-enterology and nuclear physics. Isn’t that what every baby needs?

Gena, the creator, is a neuroscientist and has studied diverse topics such as autism, brain development, emotion and drug withdrawal. After her post-doc work she had a wonderful daughter and decided to stay home with her. While her daughter sleeps (do some babies do that? I’m very jealous) she cuts loose with her creative side. At first this led to clothes and fabric blocks, but then she got the idea for Baby’s First Neuroscience Textbook. Thinking she could have a laugh and keep it as a family heirloom, it sold. So did others, and requests began coming in.

Neuroscience

The chemical signal in the synapse between two neurons.

The one I really love is Etta’s Heart Book, which she created to show the several heart surgeries needed by a little girl. It’s not that long since my father-in-law passed away, and little plush blood cell toys were useful in helping explain what was happening to his grandchildren. I can see that a beautiful, loving and personal book like this would be wonderful for a child going through something so traumatic.Ocular Anatomy
And I admit I have ordered a custom book on fossils and evolution. I ummed and ahhed because I don’t exactly have any babies anymore, but alternative forms of literacy are important to me. To choose the best pictures to represent a subject demonstrates understanding just as well as writing about it. Plus I love evolution and always will and the quirky appeals to me!

It ticks several of my philosophical boxes – science education obviously, supporting people trying something unique and inventive, supporting parents to stay home with their kids, and if you have a look at her blog Gena obviously has very strong environmental and consumerist ideals. Not only ideals, she’s turning them into actions, so you can add grass-roots activism as well.

Gena says:

I also found that parents love explaining the scientific concepts in the books to their babies. It’s a wonderful way to share your passion for science with your kids and, as my husband (an immunologist) pointed out, seeing a diagram of synaptic transmission or nuclear fusion or the digestive tract earlier than usual may make it seem less new and daunting when it shows up in a textbook later. So I like to think that I’m using my creativity to help educate and inspire our future scientists. Two of my passions have come together and I am thrilled!

Chromosome

Chromosome with unwinding DNA wrapped around histones.

As someone who’s been frustrated at some of the limited topics presented in children’s books and readers, I sympathise totally. And as someone who knows what a creative and imaginative yet painstaking process science is, I love seeing that same creativity, imagination and care given to a piece of art. Science/Art collaborations help more people to understand both in a deeper way.

The books are more expensive than a cloth book you can buy at the shop, but for something unique and handmade with such skill I think it’s worth it. And others obviously do too. There’s no disclaimer on this post because I’m not getting anything out of it, just sharing a clever idea I think my readers will appreciate.

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