Planting seeds of knowledge

14th October 2005 at 01:00
THE GLOBAL GARDEN. By Kate Petty and Jennie Maizels. Eden ProjectRandom House pound;12.99

Gillian Ravenscroft explores an innovative pop-up book introducing the world of plants to children aged seven and above With information that virtually leaps off every page, The Global Garden is another delightful journey of discovery from the authors of The Great Grammar Book and The Super Science Book. This innovative pop-up book is beautifully crafted and involves the reader in an entertaining process of pulling tabs, turning wheels and lifting flaps - all of which reveal a vivid account of the story of plants.

The combination of clear text, humorous illustrations and clever paper engineering will guarantee great amusement. More significantly, the scientific content at the core of this book presents a range of learning opportunities for younger readers. Photosynthesis, life cycle and food chain links are all covered, as well as the many ways in which plants provide clothing, medicines and furniture. Almost without them realising, children will have encountered a generous slice of the key stage 2 science curriculum on living things.

The book begins with the premise that the world is a garden in which everything we need is growing - from bamboo and cotton to beans and lavender.

In the following pages, readers will discover how a seed grows and tour the sunshine processing factory to be found inside a leaf. Little windows can be opened to reveal how fruit and vegetables grow and, with the pull of another tab, a kitchen scene of a boy with his breakfast reverts to the original plants.

Booklets unfold from a tree to explain how paper, rubber and denim have been processed. A sailing ship pops out of a double-page spread to display sailors stacking goods discovered by explorers from around the world. The book concludes with a joyous celebration of the aesthetic value of plants in a magnificent bouquet of lilies, roses and birds of paradise flowers that explode from the final pages.

The Global Garden is a stunning book with fascinating snippets presented in an engaging and original manner. Aimed at children aged seven and over, it undoubtedly has great educational value, but teachers will need to think carefully about how they use it. While it would certainly make an attractive addition to a class library, it is perhaps best used with supervision to ensure that over-eager little fingers do not make short work of the paper mechanisms.

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