Botanist and author, Chris Thorogood, explores the diversity of plants by describing the characteristics of some very unique ones. He draws attention to the fact that humans depend on plants for their existence and shows how the unique features of plants help them obtain food, reproduce, and survive adversity. Written for children ages 5-8, the book uses large colorful pictures and fascinating information to engage and entertain children and adults alike.
The stories of the individual plants are grouped by themes such as methods of obtaining energy, communication, and movement. Each plant has a two-page spread featuring a large illustration of the plant and numerous paragraphs describing the plants unique features. There is no narrative connection between the paragraphs and they vary in length, font size and weight, and orientation on the page. The over all effect is lively, spirited, and eye-catching. A section on protecting plants concludes the work.
Some of the most memorable plants include the bee orchid that has flowers that look and smell like female bees so as to attract males that will facilitate pollination. Another fascinating entry is the queen of the night cactus that lives high in the treetops in Central America so that it can catch falling leaves and bird dropping to get the nutrients it need. The mopane tree of the dry grasslands of southern Africa, has leaves that are a favorite food of elephants. When the leaves of the trees are eaten they release a chemical that cause the leaves of neighboring trees to produce tannins that repulse elephants.
Thorogood’s love of fascinating facts provides high interest material for children and is an excellent resource for turning on kids to both books and plants. He chose for his examples both exotic plants and those the children might see in the world around them and in all cases, stresses the relationships between the plants themselves, and between plants and animals, including humans. This focus is especially timely as we contemplate the preservation biosphere.
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