The Plant Hunters

29 06 2012

I don’t read much non-fiction.  I really should, because whenever I do, I really enjoy it, but I very rarely pick up a non-fiction book.

Each year I read a few non-fiction books about the countries I’m going to visit with Minooka TAP, and I read a few books every year about teaching, but other than that…  not a whole lot.

However, in the group of teachers and school librarians I follow on Twitter The Plant Hunters: True Stories of Their Daring Adventures to the Far Corners of the Earth by Anita Silvey was getting a lot of buzz.  People were talking about it like it was about real life Indiana Jones’s, so I was intrigued.  I ask my students to read several non-fiction books each year, I’d better put my money where my mouth is.

The last time I had the thought that I’d better put my money where my mouth is, it was because I told all my students in Japan that they should try weird foods, step out of their comfort zones, and not be afraid of something new.  “Just taste everything once,” I said, trying to encourage them to be adventurous, “if you don’t like it you don’t ever have to eat it again.”  Little did I know that I’d have to follow through on that request when they handed me a bucket of soy sauce flavored grasshoppers.  So, I ate a bug.  It was awful.

Now, realizing that I ask my kids to read non-fiction, when I don’t do it myself, I had to step up.  Reading this book was way better than eating a bug.  Actually, this book was fun.  I read the whole thing in one sitting, and learned a lot about plants, flowers, and the explorers who discovered and cataloged them.

It really was a lot like a whole bunch of real life Indian Jones characters.  These botanists fought their way through jungles, swam crocodile and piranha infested waters, were chased by pirates and native warriors, survived storms and wars, and even outran jungle cats to live another day.  Who knew that plants could be so exciting?

Reading this book really changed the way I look at flower gardens, the forest preserve near my house, and the medicines on my shelf.  Thanks to some brave botanists, the world is a different place.

I’m trying to read 90 books on 90 days this summer.  This was book 31.  



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