The Plant Hunters
True Stories of Their Daring Adventures to the Far Corners of the Earth
By Anita Silvey
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), Hardcover, 9780374309084, 96pp.)
Publication Date: April 10, 2012
Driven by an all-consuming passion, the plant hunters traveled around the world, facing challenges at every turn: tropical illnesses, extreme terrain, and dangerous animals. They battled piranhas, tigers, and vampire bats. Even the plants themselves could be lethal! But these intrepid eighteenth- and nineteenth-century explorers were determined to find and collect new and unusual specimens, no matter what the cost. Then they tried to transport the plants—and themselves—home alive. Creating an important legacy in science, medicine, and agriculture, the plant hunters still inspire the scientific and environmental work of contemporary plant enthusiasts.
Working from primary sources—journals, letters, and notes from the field—Anita Silvey introduces us to these daring adventurers and scientists. She takes readers into the heart of their expeditions to then-uncharted places such as the Amazon basin, China, and India. As she brings a colorful cast of characters to life, she shows what motivated these Indiana Jones–type heroes. In The Plant Hunters, science, history, and adventure have been interwoven to tell a largely forgotten—yet fascinating—story.
Anita Silvey is among today's foremost authorities on children's books. She is the creator of both the online and the forthcoming print editions of the Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac, and teaches courses in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science and the Children’s Literature Program at Simmons College. A frequent contributor to NPR, Ms. Silvey lectures around the country on children’s and young adult books. Her recent books include Henry Knox: Bookseller, Soldier, Patriot, I’ll Pass for Your Comrade: Women Soldiers in the Civil War, and Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book. She lives near Boston, Massachusetts.
“…a lovely presentation of amazing adventures.”--School Library Journal
“…successfully infuse[s] the image of plant collection with a measure of excitement many readers will not expect.”--BCCB
"Combining bits of botanical history and exploration with accounts of adventurers, this unusual book introduces European and North American plant hunters..."--Booklist
“…smoothly written, smartly paced and filled with exciting tales of risk taking and derring-do.”--Kirkus Reviews