A seed is sleepy
Aston, Dianna Hutts; illustrated by Sylvia Long (Chronicle Books, 2007, unpaged)
This beautiful picture book describes seeds and how they germinate. Each double page spread features a different aspect of seeds with a poetic statement in large-size handwritten calligraphy. The language used in these sentences is more poetic than factual, such as 'A seed is sleepy' and 'A seed is clever'. However the scientific basis for these statements is then given in further information on the page. The great strengths of the book are in the magnificent botanical illustrations, executed in ink and watercolour, and in the book design. A double page before the title page is covered with different types of seeds, all labelled, and the final double page at the back shows the adult plants of these and other seeds mentioned in the book. (Note: Because this is an American publication, imperial measurements are used.)
An earlier companion volume by the same team is An egg is quiet (Chronicle Books, 2006) which won many awards.
Coldrey, Jennifer (Stopwatch Book, A. & C. Black, 1988, 25pp.)
Shows how the strawberry plant has roots, grows flower buds, develops fruit, and how new plants grow from runners. The text is clear but the real strength of the book is the full colour photographs by George Bernard, which illustrate each point admirably. Occasional drawings highlight some points.
Rotter, Charles (Creative Education (Images), 1994, 40pp.)
Superb colour photographs illustrate every page. Each one takes up a whole page or double-page spread and they include magnifications and close-ups as well as more common mushroom and toadstools. The straightforward text is relegated to boxes, each of which has a translucent background so that the detail in the photo still shows through. This attention to design and detail has created a visually stunning book.
Life in a rotten log
Atkinson, Kathie (Little Ark, Allen & Unwin, 1993, 32pp.)
By following the process of decay of a fallen tree till a new seedling tree takes root, this book introduces the various organisms that live in or on a rotting log and shows clearly that decay also means new life. The text and photographs convey the author's enthusiasm for her subject. (ANIMALS; PLANTS. AUSTRALIAN)
Linnea's windowsill garden
Bjork, Christina and Lena Anderson (R. & S. Books, 1988, 59pp.)
Linnea loves plants but because she lives in an apartment she grows them in pots all over her room. She tells the reader how she does it and how she learns from her friend Mr Bloom. The first person technique allows the authors' enthusiasm to bubble through. As well as learning how to grow plants and some plant biology, the reader will find simple games and tricks, all based on plants. Australian readers will need to read 'south' for 'north' and so on as it has not been adapted for the southern hemisphere. Translated from Swedish by Joan Sandin.
Tree (Revised edition)
Burnie, David (Eyewitness Guides, Dorling Kindersley, 2003, 64pp.)
An illustrated guide to trees, both broadleaved and conifers, their life cycles, buds, bark, leaves and so on. The text on each page is short but each opening has several photographs and the captions contain much information. They include snippets about spices and other ways in which people have used trees. It has a British bias but is valuable as a general study of trees. For the older end of the 7-12 age range.
Killer plants and how to grow them
Cheers, Gordon and Julie Silk; illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall (Puffin, 1996, 32pp.)
A brief introduction to carnivorous plants is followed by a brief description of ten varieties with tips for growing them, and double page spreads on sizes and distribution. Although there is no discussion of why a few plants are carnivorous and there are a couple of references to plants being happy, the illustrations by Marjorie Corssley-Farall and the design and clarity of the text make this an effective book.
Walking with the seasons in Kakadu
Lucas, Dianne; illustrated by Ken Searle (Allen & Unwin, 2003, 32pp.)
In English, but with some terms from the Gundjehmi language, this books takes readers through the six seasons recognised by the Aboriginal people of Kakadu. It shows readers the weather patterns and the characteristic changes in plants and animals which determine the beginning and end of each season. Descriptions of the activities of flowers, fruits and animals are set in boxes against one to three scenes of each season painted by Ken Searle. People playing or collecting food are often included. Animals and flowers are shown well, except for the orb spider being upside down.
(ANIMALS; PLANTS. AUSTRALIAN)
Discover and learn about Australian forests and woodlands
Slater, Pat (Ark Australia Habitats and Ecosystems, Steve Parish, 2002, 48pp.)
Brief introductory sections on the voyage of ark Australia, forest ecology, classification, and biodiversity, are followed by more detail on Australia’s forest types (tropical and temperate rainforests, monsoon forests, dry and wet sclerophyll forests). Information is given in short paragraphs, text boxes on specific subjects, coloured photographs (mainly by Steve Parish), captions, and ‘facts ‘n’ figures files’. Other sections cover predators and parasites, fungi, food chains and other interactions, and effects of fire and humans. The resulting presentation is attractive for both browsing and studying.
Discover and learn about Australian wetlands and waterways also covers its subject well, but other books in the series are rather disjointed.
(PLANTS; ANIMALS. AUSTRALIAN)
Looking at plants
Suzuki, David (Australian adaptation, Little Ark Books/Allen & Unwin, 1989, 96pp.)
Several sections inform about plants, their importance or structure, and are each followed by a few activities which demonstrate plant biology or uses. Instructions are written for children to follow themselves and indicate where help will be needed with boiling water and other potentially dangerous steps. Illustrated with line drawings.
Looking at the body, . . . at the senses, . . . at insects, . . . at the weather, and . . . at the environment provide equally informative and child-oriented texts and suitable activites for the age group.
(PLANTS; ANIMALS; GENERAL SCIENCE)
A leaf in time
Walker, David; illustrated by Mic Rolph (Making Sense of Science Series, Portland Press, 1999, 32pp.)
This outline of life on Earth, from early bacteria to industrial society, emphasises the essential role plants have played in producing oxygen, feeding all life, and providing us with stored energy in fossil fuels. The narrative has the satisfying structure of a story and the simple, clear language will help children and their teachers develop their own language for discussion. The book is best read as a whole, perhaps with an adult to help the child, rather than approaching it as a source of facts. There is no index or glossary, but specialised words are printed in bold when they first appear, with a pronunciation guide in the brackets. The soft watercolour illustrations by Mic Rolph provide scope for discussion.