Women in Botany (Science Wide Open Series)
Mary Wissinger (author) Danielle Pioli (illustrator)
Science, Naturally (2022)
Reviewed by Eve Panzer, the Barefoot Librarian, for Reader Views Kids (03/2023)
WOMEN IN BOTANY – WINNER OF THE BAREFOOT LIBRARIAN BOOK AWARD FOR 2022
There is a dearth of children’s books focused on women in science, so this book is much needed and appreciated. However, it goes beyond just filling in a gap. So much consideration and thoughtfulness have gone into this STEM book! It is a well-thought-out, well-written, well-constructed book that is engaging and informative.
The author has done her research! She has found women in science from historical periods dating back to ancient times and from all corners of the globe, reflecting the vast diversity within the category of women scientists. The name, time period, and location of each scientist are provided, along with their contribution and how it affected their community and the world. The science behind their contribution is explained in clear, concise language accompanied by clear, informative, labeled illustrations.
The book’s brilliant construction flows seamlessly from one botany topic to another. The conduit is a series of questions asked by the main character. A scientific explanation is given to answer her questions, which leads to the introduction of a women scientist whose work relates to that topic.
For instance, the first question is, “What’s inside a seed?”. A scientific answer is given, along with a labeled illustration of a seed. Then the scientist Waheenee is introduced. Her work with planting seeds during the correct season, harvesting seeds for future plantings, and following traditional ways of growing native to her people are detailed. The next question is, “How does a seed become a plant?”. The scientific answer is given, and then Elizabeth Coleman White and her work cultivating blueberries from the wild and learning to harvest them on her farm are discussed. The questions continue to flow naturally – “We eat plants, but what do plants eat?”, “What’s the Linnean system?”, “How do plants help us?”, “How do botanists make new plants?” – each question is followed by a scientific explanation and an introduction to another woman botanist. The last question, “Why is it important to protect plants?” brings us into modern times and our urgent need to protect our environment.
The illustrations are straightforward and colorful. In addition, there is a bonus glossary of scientific terms at the end of the book.
Kudos to the author, illustrator, and publisher of Women in Botany for creating an instructive and absorbing book on many levels. Clear explanations of various aspects of botany while introducing some little-known women scientists makes this book a standout! In addition to this title, the publishers have other books in the Science Wide Open series and other STEM books, which I highly recommend.
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