Talk about a title that grabs you. 10 Plants that Shook the World has to intrigue even those most entrenched in the idea that botany equals boring. You don’t think of plants as being great movers and shakers in history but Gillian Richardson is out to change their image.
As the title implies, Richardson doesn’t include the 10 most important plants or most unusual but rather 10 plants that had a major impact somehow on global history or economy. Papryus, cotton, rubber, tea, sugarcane, corn, potatoes, cacoa, pepper and cinchona (the plant that quinine, used to treat malaria, comes from) are the plants chosen for inclusion. Each chapter includes some bare facts (age, stats, native location) and short sidebar vignettes about the plant along with the primary text telling the story of how that plant was important in history. Some photographs are mixed in with stylized drawings by Kim Rosen. The overall feel is not unlike that of a nature journal or notebook stuffed full of observations and sketches about each plant.
This book is a nominee for a Cybils Award in the Elementary and Middle Grade Non-Fiction category for which I am a Round 1 panelist. I obtained a copy of the book from my library. My opinions are my own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the other panelists.