Reviews /

Mushrooms Know: Wisdom From Our Friends the Fungi

Authored by Kallie George
Illustrated by Sara Gillingham
Published by Greystone Books,Canada

Tagged , ,

Greystone Kids’ recent run of excellent books shows no sign of slowing down with the release of Mushrooms Know: Wisdom From Our Friends the Fungi, a non-fiction book in essence, couched in gentle, lyrical text that might support children to realise the strength in themselves.

Double-page spreads look at the mushroom as a sentient being, with lines such as ‘Mushrooms know there is more beneath the surface than meets the eye’. The second half of the double-page then explains the scientific detail, using appropriate tier 3 vocabulary to enhance our understanding – an example here would be mycelium or hyphae, both of which are explained fully.

The book personifies the humble mushroom as something that can make friends, is aware of its surroundings, is small but mighty, and can withstand challenges, all the time making reference to its biological make-up and explaining what makes them such resistant living things. The vivid colour palette is at odds with the mushrooms natural dark environment and so allows the species to take centre stage. Sara Gillingham has done a great job in bringing them to life, reminding me of Bethan Woollvin’s style, and her illustrations are complete with friendly faces, as well as being labelled so the reader knows some of the wild and wonderful names they have.

My only small concern was that mushrooms are made to seem a wondrous and accessible fungi, with a couple of illustrations depicting a child sat very close to them (though never touching). There is a warning about the poisonous nature of mushrooms at the end of the book, but personally I would have been happier had this been at the book’s start.

Kallie George has married factual detail with a gentle narrative that could allow children to reflect on how they are growing, changing, and adapting all the time. It is accessible, attractive, and would be a great addition to bookshelves in Year 3  and up.