Plants on the Move
Émilie Vast, author-illustrator
Visual artist, graphic designer, photographer and illustrator, Émilie Vast was born in Épernay. After studying art and photography at the ESAD in Reims, she turned to drawing. Inspired by the graphic arts of the past and a nature lover, she produces stylized plants and animals that are faithful to reality. She is the author/illustrator of From Mother to Mother and Father to Father.
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Ten ways that plants move are described with detailed silhouette art and a moderate amount of text. The graphic art stands out beautifully within thin black frames against stark white pages. Bold green lettering and an appropriate plant image decorate each single-page chapter heading. The short chapters begin with a plant introducing itself by its common name. Sometimes a plant also addresses readers directly, as with the strawberry: “You know me well, and you love to eat my sweet, red fruit.” However, most of the plants’ supposed narrations move quickly into scientific explanations, including simple definitions of terms such as calyx, pollination, and samara. (Further definitions occur in the backmatter.) There is enough information contained here that the book will benefit from reading over multiple sittings. It excels as a reference book, especially since the graphic art is so clearly detailed that reluctant or beginning readers will be able to learn a great deal from the illustrations alone. The sequence about plant seeds traveling by animal excrement is amazingly graceful, informative, and subtle—in both words and art. Similarly, clear sequences of frames show such things as a winsome fox carrying and dropping a burr and a water lily’s fruit developing and decomposing. Groupings of 24 cultivated plants by place of origin—albeit stated as incomplete—jar with the omissions of Africa, North America, and Oceania. The few examples of human skin are light-complexioned. Leaf and learn.
Even young children understand that seeds grow into new plants, but how do seeds reach the soil they need? Accompanied by crisp, stylized artwork set against a contrasting white background, this informational picture book, originally from France, introduces several ways that seeds disperse. The succinct, descriptive text is divided into sections according to the seed movement (e.g., flying, clinging, or being eaten). Each section, in turn, opens with a single or a few representative plants that explain the physical characteristics of themselves and their seeds in a first-person narrative before explaining the benefits of their seed dispersal process. A maple tree, for example, describes the “light, delicate wings” of its seeds that dry up in the fall into “little helicopters,” detach, and spiral down to the ground. A double-page spread at the end of each section offers a beautiful, visual summary of other plants that rely on the same method for their seeds. Pair with Robin Page’s Seeds Move! for another look at plants on the go.
ISBN: 978-1-63289-925-5 EPUB
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Page count: 56
12 x 81/4