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The Secret World of Plants

Authored by Ben Hoare
Illustrated by Kaley McKean
Published by Dorling Kindersley Ltd

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The Secret World of Plants is nearly 200 beautifully illustrated pages, full of fascinating facts of over 100 species of plants from all over the world.

The plant kingdom is vast, with different species living in many different habitats across the Earth. This book takes us into these different worlds and shares some incredible facts. It is a dense book, jam-packed with information. Ben Hoare captures succinctly, in his introduction, what the book aims to do, ‘You will meet amazing plants from every continent, learn how they work and… are extraordinary in so many ways.’ He tells us we will find out about plants weird and wonderful relationships with plants; how essential they are to the air we breathe, the weather, climate control, feeding us, clothing us and healing us; how they can move, steal, help each other and more. There follows a more detailed introduction to the world of plants, breaking down each part of it and then the book is set out into different sections looking at each part of the plant: leaves; stems and trunks; roots and bulbs; flowers; fruits and cones and finally seeds and nuts. Each double spread has the kind of pages we are familiar with if you know Dorling Kindersley books: a balance of text, labelled diagrams and photographs and illustrations bringing each plant to life. It goes without saying that there is a comprehensive glossary and index too at the end of the book.

The Secret World of Plants is a book for children to dip into, to build knowledge and use as a reference book within Key Stage 2. That said, I was so fascinated, I found myself staying with the book longer than I anticipated, each time I dipped into it, as I found the facts so mesmerising, that I think anyone with an inkling of interest in the natural world may find themselves doing the same. I could share many, many things that I loved finding out from this book but I’ll just tempt you with a few. I loved finding out that there is a copycat and cheat of a flower that looks like a bee to attract the real bees to it, called the bee orchid. Did you know that strawberry plants belong to the rose family and that sweet peas are right-handed because their tendrils only curl to the right? This led me on to researching into left-handed plants, being left-handed myself!

This is Dorling Kindersley at its best, informing and inspiring through both the text from Ben Hoare and beautifully detailed illustrations from Kaley McKean alongside some wonderful photographs. A must for all primary school libraries for all budding horticulturists and botanists out there.

Shortlisted for The Week Junior Book Award 2024 Stem Category