Highlights in the long history of plants, from primeval algae to genetically modified rice.
Ada Osprey, intrepid librarian of the Eagle-Eyed Explorer Club, invites readers to tag along as she travels back in time, busily taking notes. Sounding rather a lot like lectures, these cover the distinctive characteristics of plants, how cyanobacteria kicked off plant evolution by embedding themselves in other single-celled organisms, the development in plants of different strategies for survival and reproduction, the invention of agriculture, and finally our use and misuse of fossil fuels and other plant-based products. Along the way six “plant Explorers” such as geneticist Gregor Mendel and botanical illustrator Marianne North earn short profiles. Following a pair of review quizzes (answers, refreshingly, not provided in a separate key) she presents the survey’s special feature—a one-sided, 6-foot-long, accordion-folded timeline studded with painted depictions of around 100 identified specimens, select landmark events such as the K-T extinction and the appearance of an early farmer (wielding, anachronistically, a metal sickle) and explanatory captions. Ada has brown skin and long, dark hair. A similar timeline graces the co-published Mammals!, with a gallery of hominins (all male, brown-skinned, and, with the exception of a downright dapper Homo habilis, unkempt) marching amid a throng of smiling, now-extinct prehistoric contemporary creatures.
Quick but wide-angled overviews. (index, glossary) (Novelty nonfiction. 8-11)