I love to explore the unmowed corners of the world. To research Karl, Get Out of the Garden, I travelled to Sweden, and took a 20-hour train ride to the Lapland wilderness, where Karl studied and collected plants. I loved the birch forests, fir trees, and the eerie glow of the Northern lights.
Like Linnaeus, I’ve always been fascinated by plants and animals no one loves—like poison ivy, dandelions, tarantulas and scorpions. My first book was Teeth of the Lion: The Story of the Beloved and Despised Dandelion, about all the ways dandelions are used, for food, medicine and magic.
I’ve even managed to discover something good about poison ivy—it’s a major food for wildlife, especially for birds like robins, bluebirds and cardinals. Leaflets Three, Let it Be! The Story of Poison Ivy is a picture book which introduces the youngest explorers to this scary but important plant. My next book was In Praise of Poison Ivy: The Secret Virtues, Amazing History, and Dangerous Lore of the World’s Most Hated Plant, a nonfiction book for adults.
In 2018, I have a book coming from Houghton Mifflin called ITCH: Everything You Didn’t Want to Know About What Makes You Scratch. It’s about the science of itching, and some of the world’s most irritating—but fascinating—creatures: lice, bedbugs, fleas, cactus, mosquitoes, and fungus.
Check out my blog about unloved and underappreciated plants at www.unmowed.com.