10 Plants that Shook the World
Gillian Richardson, author
Kim Rosen, illus
Annick Press, 2013

It’s easy to overlook the significance of all the plant life around us. Sure, we eat plants every day…but do you think about the plants you might be wearing, walking on, or even using as medicine? 10 Plants that Shook the World introduces us to ten plants that helped bring about world changes. They were intensely valuable for their properties, be they spice, textiles, medicine, or food. Their value drove world exploration and colonization, trade routes, economic situations–even causing dramatic changes in population growth.

Can you guess the 10 plants which might have made the list for this book? Most of them are incredibly ordinary…so ordinary, you might forget you’re eating or using a plant form. And Richardson does a great job at helping the reader to see all the facets behind each of the plants’ histories she writes: the good, the bad, the ugly. She walks a careful line between fact and judging, and I think she does it well.

In addition to the history of each plant’s discovery, cultivation, and impact on world events, she offers a short grouping of basic plant facts for each plant, maps to highlight where plants were discovered, a fictional account of how a given plant might be being used or cultivated or worked on by young people in various cultures, and a terrific bibliography and “further reading” list. The illustrations aren’t particularly my style, but they aren’t offensive and I think kids will appreciate them.

Look for this book soon in libraries! You might also consider adding this to a school or public library if you’re in the position to make those decisions. This is a great resource and interesting nonfiction. Recommended for upper elementary and middle grades.

If you like plants and gardening, be sure to check out my “Librarian’s List” of 10 books on gardening today  on Redeemed Reader!

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