- Age Range: 9 - 11 years
- Grade Level: 5 - 7
- Series: World of Tens
- Hardcover: 132 pages
- Publisher: Annick Press (February 1, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1554514452
- ISBN-13: 978-1554514458
- Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.4 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,790,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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10 Plants That Shook The World (World of Tens) Hardcover – February 1, 2013
From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Richardson explores the interrelationships of 10 plants with worldwide politics, medicine, and culture. Each chapter begins with a fictional character's story and then describes the natural history of the plant; its importance to humans; and how it was grown, processed, and used over time. Although often associated only with paper, papyrus was valued as a versatile contributor to daily life in ancient Egypt-from food to rope, blankets, baskets, sails, sandals, and medicine. The politics surrounding tea and rubber are sketched in, with the Boston Tea Party tax protest as just one example of the role tea has played in American, British, and Chinese history. Rubber likewise played a vital part throughout history, from the ancient Mayan's deadly ball games to 19th-century horticultural espionage involved in sneaking seeds from Brazil to Great Britain. Imaginative, full-color drawings appear on almost every page, and photographs amplify the text throughout. A double-page world map provides an overview of where these plants originated, and a two-page index links readers to details within each chapter. This title will be useful for reports and provide fun browsing and reading as well.-Frances E. Millhouser, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In her acknowledgments, Richardson comments that a 1997 article from Garden Design Magazine planted the seeds for this book, in which the author has selected papyrus, pepper, tea, sugarcane, cotton, cacao (chocolate), cinchona (quinine), rubber, potato, and corn as topics of conversations both botanical and historical. Each of the chosen 10 has its own chapter in which the author adroitly weaves science with social studies in a format that always encourages readers to learn more. For instance, in the chapter on cinchona, Richardson supplies a time line showing how Europeans attempted to smuggle seedlings out of South America, which took almost 130 years. Meanwhile, sidebars and asides talk about discovery, malaria, transportation, and more to expand the information. Throughout, photographs mix with Rosen’s paintings, which effectively exaggerate the faces of people involved in the trade or labor of growing and harvesting crops. A unique book with great classroom potential. Grades 5-8. --J. B. Petty
Top customer reviews
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Turns out I should have been paying more attention to the "shook the world" part of the title. The theme of the book is actually the top plants that changed how international trade and exploration evolved. So the plants that they talk about are ones that not only changed how we eat and live, but also how we communicate (hence the papyrus) or interact with each other. So, for example, tea, sugarcane and cacao became globally traded commodities; sugarcane and cotton sadly contributed to an international slave trade; and potatoes both doubled and halved the population of Ireland and greatly contributed to Irish emigration.
And chinchona? It's the plant that provides the key ingredient to the malaria vaccine. While that's incredibly important for the people most at risk of malaria, it was also a major factor in the ability of Europeans to explore countries they previously had been unable to explore. See? It's a theme.
But seriously? No tomato? No chick pea? Not even a sweet pea in honour of Gregor Mendel?
Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from the publisher from NetGalley. I was not obliged to write a favourable review, or even any review at all. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.
While the intended audience of this book is children, I have to say, even at my age, I learned a ton from reading it. I was captivated by the history behind each of the plants Gillian Richardson profiled in this book, they are:
For each plant Richardson begins with a brief overview of where it originated, how old the plant is, and the plants "likes" and "dislikes." Then she gives us the story of the plant, which is, in essence, its history. To be honest you, if this was all that was in this book, my expectations would have been satisfied, but Richardson had grander plans.
For each plant there were additional embedded blurbs concerning individual anecdotes about the plant in our world. How each plant affected economies, environments, world explorations and warfare were all aspects discussed. Each section also featured a narrative describing a pivotal piece of the plant's history from the perspective of a person whose life was directly affected by it. I thought these stories were beautifully creative ways to bring even a small aspect of the history to life for the reader.
The color palette and art by Kim Rosen were seamless throughout the book and kid friendly. (Here's a post about Kim's work on the book!) Flipping through the pages of the book, you get the impression that it is informative and intriguing without being overwhelming. By the end of my read, I was shocked by how much information was packed in this unassuming book!
My Final Word
It is easy for us to forget how amazing something as simple as pepper or tea is. This book is a great reminder for adults and the beginning of that education for kids. The beautiful balance between straight expository (fact based) text, creative nonfiction, lists and artwork found in this book is rarely accomplished so well. Reading this book was a pleasure and I plan to read it again. I think this book is great read for kids interested in history or the environment, but can also be an excellent resource book for any reports that may be coming up during the school year.
Once you start with papyrus and pepper you know that's not where this book is going. The author focuses on plants that led to strife, skullduggery, slavery, or similar stories. Only at the end do we find potatoes and corn, the former which led to famine, and the latter to a panoply of products.
The pattern is consistent. An opening page that states the name, name origin, and the author's assessment of the plant's pros and cons. Then there's a quick facts kind of page, a picture page, and a (generally trite) fictional story related to the plant. Finally, a few pages about how the plant is used and how it disrupted the world.
The discussions are generally interesting, and seem mostly credible. The illustrations are, probably intentionally, somewhat crude, but serve the purpose, although some seem to be there for the sake of having picture pages.
This book falls into the fun facts category; it's certainly not any kind of look at the plants that made modern life. But it's fun, and suitable to pique the interest of anyone from preteen to aging adult.
The publisher provided me a copy for review.