There was a time not too long ago when science books were filled with hand-drawn pictures of discovery. Painstaking detail sketched into each image, with blended colors and labelled diagrams thanks to devoted observation. A love relationship between science and art. These are the books I hunt for, which is how I found Moppet Books and their latest Kickstarter project: Encyclopedia of Amazing Insects and Encyclopedia of Legendary Creatures. These vintage-style science books are the third and fourth instalments in the Moppet Books Vintage Collection. The great news is you still have time to join and the project is already full-funded. Start making room on your shelves because we’re here for the full collection.
Vintage-Style Science Books
Let’s start off with why books like these are so good: Mainly because they are a visual beauty of all things STEAM. STEM may be the buzzword of our generation but let’s get one thing straight: The future is powered by STEAM. That’s Science, Technology, Engineering, ART, and Math. Art is how we communicate, inspire, and encourage growth in the other elements. We need the other elements as the foundation blocks in society but they lose their ‘oomph’ if you can’t share the knowledge with others. That’s where art comes in.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then biology diagrams are worth a thousand hours of observation and detailed note-taking. Before cameras, science was aided by art to help explain some of the weirdest phenomena. Some of it was beautiful and some of it was as baffling as the science it was trying to explain. My fave is one of the earliest impressions of the aurora borealis, by Absalon Pedersson Beyer in Bergen (Norway) in 1563. There are no expressive flourishes, just scientific observation trying to capture what was seen.
Fortunately, Moppet Books are much better at this than Beyer.
What’s in the Project?
The current project includes two (2) books to add to the growing Moppet Books Vintage collection: Encyclopedia of Amazing Insects and Encyclopedia of Legendary Creatures. Both books are hardcover with 58-pages of beautifully designed prints and short essays with fun yet factual information. Based on the two previous books in the series, I can vouch for the high-quality production of the books, in both the visual display and the glorious feel of the books. I have Book One and Book Two of the collection from the earlier Kickstarter project and I absolutely love these books! Every time I pull them down off the shelf, I have the overwhelming urge to sink into a winged back chair with a hot cup of tea.
While both books belong in the set, they are unique additions in their own right. The Encylopedia of Amazing Insects is a factual reference guide, featuring 40 brilliant artistic displays of these mini-beasts. As stunning as the artwork is (and it is), I am partial to the witty and entertaining descriptions that accompany it. Take the Australian Walking Stick for example; one of my faves because not only is it an apt description for the insect’s appearance, it is also fairly accurate in sharing the bug’s defence mechanism: the ‘walking stick fart’.
In stark contrast, the Encyclopedia of Legendary Creatures features a balanced mix of both famous and lesser-known creatures of lore. Let’s be honest: There is nothing scientific about Medusa or goblins or werewolves. Instead, this book is in the same feel as vintage-style science books. It’s more of a cultural storytelling but in the same encyclopedic format. And to be fair, many of the animals we know today were once considered too strange to be anything but ‘legendary’ (I mean, have you ever seen a platypus?) Each story has been collected from cultures all around the world, giving a little bit of history and a healthy dose of quirkiness. Once again, the magic is in the artwork, keeping the images safely in the ‘child-friendly’ zone.
Both of these books are part of a collection that started with an earlier Kickstarter project. If you missed out the first time, now is your chance to pick up the Encyclopedia of Strangely Named Animals (Book One) and the Encyclopedia of Strange Looking Animals (Book Two). And in more great news, there is also an additional book coming later in the year! It is the re-edition of Fantastical Fish by Louis Renard, a French artist from 1754. This book is filled with over 400 vibrant drawings of tropical fish and is a treasured classic in the scientific literature of the eighteenth century. The book is clothbound and gold foil stamped with English translations of the original French text. Fantastical Fish is scheduled to launch with a Kickstarter campaign in the coming months but you can arrange to have it delivered with your Encyclopedia at the same time for a discounted rate.
For our family of scientists, I have been thrilled with the hours my kids spend reading their encyclopedias. In the digital age, where internet search engines are merely a smartphone away, it’s kinda nice to sit down and enjoy some classic reference books like these. Moppet Books have captured the nostalgic beauty of science books with contemporary wit and curiosity. I can’t wait to add more volumes to our Moppet Vintage Books collection.
The Encyclopedia of Amazing Insects and the Encyclopedia of Legendary Creatures are available now through Kickstarter on the official page here. The project has already reached its funding goal and closes on Tuesday, May 10 2022 at 8 am EDT. The estimated delivery is August 2022 but you are best checking out the official website for more updates.
You can find more vintage-style science books like these (and others) with Moppet Books Publishing and their official website here. Moppet Books is a solar-powered publishing company in Los Angeles, California. Every one of their books is designed for young curios minds with vibrant illustrations to inspire and enjoy. No cash payment or incentive has been received for this review. All opinions are solely of the writer.