Book Review: Plantopedia, by Adrienne Barman

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Feel like a frolic through some fascinating flowers, curious crops and wonderful weeds? Discover ‘the historical’ and ‘the healers’, ‘the sand lovers’ and ‘the seed sowers’ in Plantopedia – a bouquet of some of the natural world’s best blooms and finest foliage.

This hardcover children’s book groups plants according to their peculiar characteristics and capabilities, from ‘the air fresheners’ and ‘the big eaters’ to ‘the biggest, stinkiest, most magical and most poisonous of all’. The simple table of contents features an image as well as the title of the plants in each category. There are several pages devoted to each section, featuring a collection of plants and their associated captions. Additional facts are dotted here and there but, on the whole, text is minimal.

Adrienne Barman’s illustrations are fun and immensely appealing. Her simple depictions of plants and the creatures that live on or around them are quirky and will grab children’s attention with their vibrancy and silliness (drips of ‘blood’ dot the pages of ‘the prickly’ and smiling skeletons dance around ‘the poisoners’). One missed opportunity is the lack of botanical names or scientific classification information. Including a little more detail would have enhanced the book’s usefulness and boosted its educational value.

The book is a follow-up publication to Creaturepedia (an encyclopedia of curious creatures). Pascale Rosier’s design is beautiful, with colour-filled pages and a handwritten appearance to the text. It’s a lovely book to hold and flick through, with thick paper stock, an embossed cover and a ribbon marker to help keep track of a favourite page.

Plantopedia is not a comprehensive, botanically accurate record of all plants, but it definitely fulfils its sub-title’s claim to be a ‘celebration of nature’s show-offs’. It’s a great way to introduce young readers to the diverse array of flora in our gardens, fields and forests, and it’s the perfect jumping-off point for further reading and research.

Reviewed by Jo Vabolis
Twitter: @JoVabolis

Rating out of 10: 8

Distributed by: Allen & Unwin and available from Dymocks
Released: April 2018
RRP: $29.99 hardcover

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Charming

Plantopedia is not a comprehensive, botanically accurate record of all plants, but it definitely fulfils its sub-title’s claim to be a ‘celebration of nature’s show-offs’. It’s a great way to introduce young readers to the diverse array of flora in our gardens, fields and forests, and it’s the perfect jumping-off point for further reading and research.

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