Green: The Story of Plant Life on Our Planet

Image of Green: The Story of Plant Life on Our Planet (Our Natural World)
Release Date: 
March 12, 2024
Reviewed by: 

“Every elementary classroom and science lab needs a copy of Green.”

Green: The Story of Plant Life on Our Planet is a gorgeous book from end paper to end paper (covered in various kinds of leaves). Both the English author and illustrator have made another beauty of a science book, following Grow: Secrets of our DNA; Many: The Diversity of Life on Earth; and Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes. Green talks about trees and photosynthesis, how plants take in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen, opposite of what animals need to live. Without green plants, trees, seaweed and plankton, there would be no animal life on Earth.

The concepts are broken down into bite-sized pieces for children to understand. Photosynthesis is explained in three paragraphs. “Living things breathe in oxygen and use it to get energy from their food in a process called respiration. This process is the opposite of photosynthesis. Together, the two keep our air in balance . . . just right for life.”

Living things are referring to animals, but aren’t plants also living things? The only other line in the book which is unclear is this one: “Plants don’t do this alone (restore the balance of the air). They work together with other living things, such as animals, which pollinate their flowers and spread their seeds, and fungi, which wrap around their roots and help them to reach for goodness in the soil.” What goodness in the soil is the author referring to? This sentence stands out because every other sentence in this book is crystal clear in its meaning.

The main story is printed on each page in standard lettering. Then in italics, and often woven into the art, extra facts are added to further explain or enhance with extra information. “The band of air around the Earth is called the atmosphere. It’s made up of layers of gases, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) deep. From space it looks like a haze of blue, wrapped around the whole planet.”

This extra info is written along the curve of the Earth with a red spaceship blasting overhead and set against a setting sun and stars (an error to have sun out and stars in a dark sky all together in one drawing). A sharp student will pick up on that and complain that it isn’t correct.

The pages explaining how Earth got its first green life has many italics at the bottom of the pages showing the timeline from simple microbes a billion years ago, all the way up to 299 million years ago with forests, amphibians, giant insects, and reptiles. Without green plants, this life would not have evolved on Earth.

The book goes on to explain how fossil fuels were formed from layers and layers of decaying plants and touches on climate change. The biggest sentence in the whole book is this one: “In just 200 years, we have released most of the carbon dioxide that those ancient forests locked up over the course of 60 million years.”

The book ends on a conservation note. “All of these green nations are under threat. On land, humans have cut many forests down to make way for farms, roads, and cities—and we have polluted the oceans with plastic. This means they need our help and protection. They need us to remember that GREEN is the most important color in the world.”

The art is perfect for the text, lush and colorful from the red, orange, and pink fish and sea life to the layers of decomposed forests and a miner and his dog in a coal mine that runs under the layers. The pages show factories with black smoke and zillions of cars, a huge tree near the end shading many children both under the tree and in its branches, bears, elk, bobcats, bison, monkeys, seals, birds and seahorses. The title page is lovely covered with vining morning glories.

Every elementary classroom and science lab needs a copy of Green.