Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Focusing On Fabulous Flora

In all seasons of the year, they provide vivid sensory experiences for all the planet's inhabitants.  The survival of all species needing air is determined by their existence.  There is hardly a facet of human lives untouched by them.  It's astounding the links they provide in the chains of our everyday moments.

For those who think they know how valuable plants are to humans, prepare to be amazed.  I Ate Sunshine For Breakfast: A Celebration of Plants Around the World (Flying Eye Books, March 18, 2020) written by Michael Holland FLS with illustrations by Philip Giordano is a joyous gift for readers' minds and eyes.  It is a journey through an unimaginable world with words and visuals to savor for the rest of your lives.

Part One
Plants are essential to your world.  Without
them, no other living thing would be able to 
survive.  This book will help you to become more
acquainted with your leafy neighbors, from
how they grow, to fossilization and everything
in-between.  With over 400,000 species on our
planet to discover, let's find out all about 
these incredible organisms!

This first of four parts has ten two-page sections.  Some of the section titles are:

Why do plants matter?
Leaves: a food factory
Flower power and
Seeds on the move.

Within this first part, there are three DIY projects, extending your knowledge through application and play.  You will be dazzled by the presentation of introductory and basic facts.  Seeds need certain conditions to germinate, but if those conditions are not present, they change.  In areas such as Australia or South Africa with frequent fires, the heat melts fruit to set the seeds free, or smoke tells them it is time to sprout.  Did you know blue-green algae was around millions of years ago?  It still works to send out oxygen.  This tiny, tiny plant can multiple to span 

thousands of miles.

In the second part, World Of Plants, there are two DIY activities.  One of them instructs you how to observe the freezing process and the differences between deciduous and evergreen trees during this process.  You'll learn about plant families like the Cucumber Family which includes pumpkins.  Evolution and adaption are explained.  Did you ever hear of 

The Great Dying

Did you know tightly packed spines on cactus reflect the sun, protecting them?  There are plants that steal the sugary sap from other plants!  You will be shocked at the percentage of plants that are poisonous!

The title of the book is further explained in part three, From Breakfast Until Bedtime.  Eleven sections and four DIY tasks add up to fascinating facts about plants as part of our food, caring for our teeth, how we clean, what we wear, and how we make art.  Plants are crucial to constructing homes and relevant to sports.  Did you know the oldest building made of wood stands in Japan?  It was built in the year 700.  Plants can either attract us or repeal us with their odors.  A plant is so smelly it is banned in Southeast Asia.  Phew! 

In the final part, The Power of Plants, if we are still not aware of plants' impact on us, this portion offers specific and further examples.  There are plants which can take gold and silver from the soil and store it.  We than extract it through


Did you know you can light a bulb using two potatoes?  You'll enjoy this DIY experiment.  Maori hunters used plants at night in a remarkable manner.  (I'll be thinking about this for a long time.)  For those interested in the healing properties of plants, there are some plants used for generations for curative purposes, but the bark of the white birch has been examined in the last several decades for its potential use as an anti-cancer medication.  Plants are symbolic on flags and crests around the world.  Countries and states have national plants and flowers.  Plants are fuel.  We need to protect and preserve them from all forms of pollution.  Did you know earthworms hindered by pesticides when consumed by birds poison them, too?  This fourth part concludes with acknowledgements of the champion plants in a variety of categories.

Whether you read this book in a single sitting, part by part, or section by section, author Michael Holland displays his considerable knowledge conversationally and concisely.  His presentation is thoughtful and follows an understandable progression.  Everything is labeled carefully.  Scientific and common names are used.  Throughout the book, sometimes within a two-page explanation, he includes Did You Know? extra facts.  These have a definite "wow" factor.  In the DIY portions, the instructions are clear, usually advising readers to do them with an adult present or assisting.  Here is a passage.

Power Of Plants
Smart Plant Technology

Home-made torch
If you 're lost outside in Polynesia
on a dark night, the candlenut tree
(Aleurites moluccana) from Samoa
can double up as a handy torch!
By threading its oily seeds together
on a coconut leaf, the plant can be
ignited and makes a very bright,
long-lasting torch.  The black soot
that is left when the seeds burn is
collected and used to make an ink
used for tattoos.

The vibrant, cheerful case of this title beckons to readers.  You'll take a few moments to identify the numerous plants, animals, and seeds shown with splendor by artist Philip Giordano in his signature style.  Readers will enjoy running their fingers over the front to feel the textures through embossing and cut-outs.  On the other side of the spine, the back, using the same canvas color as on the front, more flora and fauna are portrayed along the bottom.  Above is text normally viewed on the front flap of a dust jacket.  There is an endorsement from Tim Smit, co-founder of The Eden Project.  Careful readers will notice a small square creature with wings.  This is your guide throughout the book.  Look for it (and other insect pals) on nearly every page.

On the opening endpapers plants, plant leaves, and seeds in shades of green on yellow look like botanical artwork.  On the closing endpapers the vividness of the color palette will leave readers gasping.  On a darker, but muted, peach background flowers burst forth in all their beauty.  They are joined by several insects.  No page is left unadorned by Philip Giordano.  Even the glossary and index are framed with plentiful, colorful plants.

The Contents has a double-page picture across most of the top half.  It is a pastoral scene with varying perspectives.  Each of the four parts have a glorious double-page picture.  For each section, the images in different perspectives define and enhance the text.  We are given up-close and personal views.  Plants are labeled with their common name.  Humor comes in the form of a worm wearing a hat or the smiles on insect faces.  Often, we are shown a microscopic view such as chloroplasts on an oak leaf.

To delineate from the main parts and sections, the DIY projects are done in green, black and white only.   They have a list of what you will need and numbered steps.  Our guide, Square, is always there.

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is for Watery WorldIt is a two-page illustration.  Across the top is either a sunset or sunrise sky in golden orange.  A red sun sits on the horizon.  Just past the gutter on the left, a turtle sits on a piling.  A rope from this piling extends to the right, tied to a boat.  Swans and other smaller birds are resting on or near the water.  The water, in a rich, midnight blue stretches to the bottom of the page.  This is filled with close-ups of water plants and animals.  We are shown how they appear on the surface of water and what is seen below the surface.  The color choices here are marvelous.  (They are throughout the book.)

This book, I Ate Sunshine For Breakfast: A Celebration of Plants Around the World by Michael Holland FLS with illustrations by Philip Giordano, is one to enjoy repeatedly.  It can be used for those with an interest in botany, units of study on plants, for research, and to promote discussions on preserving and protecting our planet and its residents. I can't imagine a collection, personal or professional, without a copy of this book.  

To learn more about Michael Holland and Philip Giordano and their other work, please visit their websites by following the link attached to their names. There are multiple images from this book to view at Philip Giordano's site.  Michael Holland has accounts on Instagram and Twitter.  Philip Giordano has accounts on InstagramTumblr and TwitterAt the publisher's website you can view more interior visuals.  Philip Giordano is interviewed at Nobrow about this book.  It is interesting and insightful.  You will love it! There are interior images and downloadable DIY pages here, also.  At Penguin Random House you can see interior illustrations.  

No comments:

Post a Comment