Here’s the highest praise for a children’s book – and from the behemoth of book reviewers The New York Times – I’ve read in good while:
“The challenge of igniting children’s curiosity is akin to lighting a fire,” reviewer Nicola Davies wrote. “You can’t put something as large as a log on a spark; you have to start with something smaller. “What’s Inside a Flower?” is the best kind of tinder for little sparks.”
So it was with great curiosity that I opened up the book in question – “What’s Inside a Flower? And Other Questions About Science and Nature” written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky. I like a book that sets a child’s imagination and wonder on fire.
I was not disappointed and you and your kids ages 4-7 (or older kids and parents who simply love beautiful books) won’t be either. In fact, consider introducing them to the book and the author in early March when she visits the Seattle bookstores.
Children’s book author and illustrator Rachel Ignotofsky will read from “What’s Inside a Flower” and answer questions March 6 at 6 p.m. at Third Place Books Ravenna. Advance registration required. Ignotofsky will appear at Redmond’s Brick & Mortar Books on March 7 at 6 p.m.
What’s inside “What’s Inside a Flower?”
First of all, beautiful, whimsical illustrations in earthy tones and lush colors labeled with lots of plant, plant parts and sciency names. Great for kids who love to wander and look and label. There’s no narrative story here. Instead the process of a growing flower is the story. The book first offers an invitation to children to look for all the places and all the configurations in which flowers grow and bloom. It then goes on to answer the most popular question in kid-dom: Why?
How does the flower grow? Why does it bloom? What’s inside?
I’m not a worm fan, but I sort of fell in love with the smiley-faced wigglers that illustrate the bacteria, bugs and fungi that work below and above ground during a plant’s life cycle. And while the word “decompose” doesn’t usually bring positive images to mind, Ignotofsky’s “decomposers” who “eat waste like garbage, dead things and poop!” feel like little friends.
I love that the text and inviting art in “What’s Inside a Flower” speak real science. From seed to growing plant to blooming flower, the book illustrates flower parts, what they need to grow, how water and minerals move from ground to plant and how it all becomes food for other animals. Imagine your 4-year-old kid spouting big words like photosynthesis (and microscopic plant cells and carbon dioxide, glucose and oxygen). Because after a few read-throughs, they will.
“What’s Inside a Flower? And Other Questions About Science and Nature” is indeed a spark – not just encouraging literacy in young readers, but igniting curiosity and introducing the idea that behind the wonderful things we see all around us – even the tiniest flowers – a whole lot of science is going on.
Ignotofsky is the author and illustrator of several well-received books for young and school age readers, including “Women in Sports” (2017), “The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth (2018) and “Women in Art”(2019).