A good introduction to a man in a class by himself.



An inveterate nature lover classifies plants and animals—and changes the world of science forever.

Even as a tiny child in 18th-century Sweden, Karl Linne adored spending time in his family’s garden. As he grew, he examined plants and bugs for hours while avoiding the stuffy confines of the schoolroom. As a medical student learning to use his beloved plants as remedies, he realized how chaotic “scientific” nomenclature really was at the time: no one agreed on specific names for plants and animals, nor was there even much general consensus about what type of living thing was what. Determined to bring order to the madness, Linne set out to classify the world’s known plants and animals by giving each a “clear and simple name”—hardly an easy task given the vast diversity of living things. Yet classify life forms Linne did, in his usual painstaking way. Later in life, as a revered scientist, he “classified” even himself by adopting the—what else?—Latin name “Carolus Linnaeus,” the name by which he is still known to this day. This is an interesting, clearly written, and accessible biography about a major yet lesser-known figure who revolutionized scientific thought. The charming pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations are bright and cheerful and work well with the narrative.

A good introduction to a man in a class by himself. (author’s notes, timeline, source notes, resource for readers, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-606-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists.


Spirited illustrations brighten a large-format introduction to flowers and their pollinators.

Showing a less Eurocentric outlook than in his Big Book of Birds (2019), Zommer employs agile brushwork and a fondness for graceful lines and bright colors to bring to life bustling bouquets from a range of habitats, from rainforest to desert. Often switching from horizontal to vertical orientations, the topical spreads progress from overviews of major floral families and broad looks at plant anatomy and reproduction to close-ups of select flora—roses and tulips to Venus flytraps and stinking flowers. The book then closes with a shoutout to the conservators and other workers at Kew Gardens (this is a British import) and quick suggestions for young balcony or windowsill gardeners. In most of the low-angled scenes, fancifully drawn avian or insect pollinators with human eyes hover around all the large, luscious blooms, as do one- or two-sentence comments that generally add cogent observations or insights: “All parts of the deadly nightshade plant contain poison. It has been used to poison famous emperors, kings and warriors throughout history.” (Confusingly for the audience, the accurate but limited assertion that bees “often visit blue or purple flowers” appears to be contradicted by an adjacent view of several zeroing in on a yellow toadflax.) Human figures, or, in one scene, hands, are depicted in a variety of sizes, shapes, and skin colors.

A floral fantasia for casual browsers as well as budding botanists. (glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-500-65199-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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