Women in Botany
Mary Wissinger (author) Danielle Pioli (illustrator)
Science, Naturally (2022)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (09/2022)
“Women in Botany” by award-winning author Mary Wissinger, illustrated by the accomplished Danielle Pioli, makes botany come to life, especially the contributions made by women over the years.
Included in the Science Wide Open series, this particular offering packs so much information and beauty into such a compact children’s book. The book is a near-encyclopedic reference book for children on women botanists and how they changed the world with the botanical work they carried out, from Ynes Mexia, who continued her work of collecting seeds even after falling from a cliff to the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Dr. Wangari Maathai, who risked it all to teach and lead on protecting trees as well as human rights. I love the main idea of the story, one that young readers should grasp right away: That a single seed can produce so much, and not just an edible plant. It can mean the sustenance of communities, neighborhoods, families, people, animals—even continents! The message that the ecosystem has many moving parts that have to work efficiently and effectively to benefit those who depend on it is one that reading audiences of all ages can appreciate.
Wissinger has a gift for breaking down botany and its terms to bite-size portions, easily digestible and so informative to readers everywhere. Showing the contributions women have made through the years is a major theme of the book, and Pioli’s skillful talents give us images of these remarkable scientists, botanists, and lovers of the earth.
The details in this book show us the value of plants around the world, from medicine to food, and show the importance of classifying each and every plant on the globe with the Linnaean System. The author even includes a glossary at the end of the book for our convenience. If you’re an adult who loves growing, gardening, and nature, but may be unfamiliar with these wonderful ladies and how they changed the world, this book can add another dimension to your green life. The impact that this book will have on girls who read it can’t be underestimated. Anyone, however, can marvel at how they used their intelligence, skills, and talents to change botany forever.
For curious readers and those who love brief biographies, “Women in Botany” by award-winning author Mary Wissinger, should be at the top of their to-read lists.