I asked students in my “Environmental and Biological Non-fiction” class to represent in sketches and geometrical forms the structure of chapters from four books. Here’s what they drew. Can you recognize any of the books? (click on images for an enlarged view; thank you to Laney Wood for taking and sharing the photos.)
Yuval Noah Harari. 2015. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. New York: Harper.
Rachel Carson. 1962. Silent Spring. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Elizabeth Kolbert. 2014. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. New York: Henry Holt.
Jane Goodall. 1971. In the Shadow of Man. London: Collins.
All the representations included some of the books’ content. The drawings varied in how effectively they showed narrative structure. Perhaps the most interesting was Silent Spring shown as a series of narratives that rise then crash, repeated over and over, with little clouds of hope, all shown as a musical score. This anticipates Carson’s moves later in the book where she takes us even lower, then expands and elevates the cloud.