Reviewed by CBC Reviewer
With the bulk of natural history books for young readers focusing on animals, this compendium of stories about explorers infected with "botanomania" will be a refreshing change. These stories about ordinary people and noted botanists, scouring the world for unusual discoveries, read like the adventures of Indiana Jones, and are sure to entice some budding scientists to take a fresh look at botany careers.
Alexander von Humboldt has near–death experiences looking for coconut palms and bananas. John Bartram dreams of bird–foot violets, and spends the rest of his life studying the botany of North America. Scotsman David Douglas obsesses with finding a single species of sugar pine. Ernest Wilson avoids headhunters in Formosa looking for lilies. Robert Fortune fights off a pirate ship single–handedly. Bringing the plants, and themselves, home alive is a constant challenge. The author also tells the story of plant superstars; giant rubber trees, plants that might cure diseases like leprosy or malaria.
The book ends with a note on "contemporary plant geeks." Don't be surprised if some of your students join that group after enjoying this exciting narrative. A timeline, notes, and index add to its value for student research. It's an NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book.
Review posted on 1/16/2013