Reviews /

Green: The Story of Plant Life on Our Planet

Authored by Nicola Davies
Illustrated by Emily Sutton
Published by Walker Books Ltd

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Green: The Story of Plant Life on Our Planet is the latest collaboration from award winning duo Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton, who brought us Tiny, Lots and Grow. Davies has the gift of writing with great clarity, demystifying complex concepts and making science accessible to the youngest reader. Her sense of wonder and joy at the beauty of the natural world as well as her passion for protecting the world around us sing through every word, every sentence, every spread of this book. The book begins with a small boy and his dog looking up at a tree and invites the reader to wonder straight away with the statement:

‘This tree doesn’t look like it’s doing very much. It doesn’t move or make a sound unless the wind blows – it just stands there in the sunlight, big and GREEN.’

Of course, the tree is very busy and exactly what it is doing and is made clear over the course of the book the reader is left in no doubt that the tree is actually doing a huge amount. Tree contains explanations of the challenging scientific concepts of respiration and photosynthesis which are concise and clear. By using the vehicle of storytelling, Davies ensures the reader will keep up with the science. Scientific explanation requires use of figurative language to support the reader to make sense of abstract concepts and Davies utilises this well.

Emily Sutton’s illustrations have enormous appeal and invite close exploration. She includes detail without the pages ever feeling too busy. The endpapers are filled with an abundance of leaves which provide an opportunity for identification. The boy and his dog are endearing companions adventuring around the planet and being able to spot them throughout the book adds an extra dimension to the reading experience.

The prose reads aloud beautifully offering a rich listening experience. Finding the right non-fiction books for a read aloud can be challenging but Davies is such an expert in the field of narrative nonfiction using the medium of story to convey information.

The book comes full circle as we return to the tree from the beginning enabling the reader to make connections with their own environment and the message about the harm being done to our planet is conveyed gently but firmly with a call to the reader to join in the fight to help and protect trees.

Learning about plants is a core part of the National Curriculum in England in Key Stage One and Davies and Sutton have created a book in Green: The Story of Plant Life on Our Planet that not only compliments work on this topic but would sit at the heart of a scheme of learning providing rich teaching content. It is simply one of the best books I have come across to support learners to read scientifically and one I would urge all schools to add to their libraries without hesitation.