Plants: Words of the World and Animals: Words of the World, illustrated by Motomitsu Maehara

Plants: Words of the World  and Animals: Words of the World, illustrated by Motomitsu Maehara. Blue Dot, 2021. 9781736226438, 9781736226445

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Board book

Genre: Picture book

What did you like about the book?  Eye-popping collages accompany multilingual labels in these two study books about common plants and animals. Maehara uses what looks like colored paper from print ads to painstakingly assemble intricate and lovely illustrations of a snail, a flamingo, a deer, and a rhino (to name a few animals) and a cacti, an apple tree, a palm tree and a poppy (to name a few plants). Each collage is surrounded by 7 labels; using consistent colors and a key on the back of the book, readers can learn how to say the plant or animal word in English, Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, French, Arabic and Esperanto. I loved the artwork! The snake wears 2 found capital “S” for eyes and each giraffe spot is filled with an intriguing mix of letters or symbols. Young readers will enjoy tipping the book sideways to open up for the giant, vertical sequoia.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Phonetic spellings in English are included, although there’s no pronunciation guide. I would not feel confident pronouncing “naag paudha”, which is “snake plant” in Hindi without further guidance.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This would be a good purchase for libraries with many different language speakers among their patrons. It’s also a nice introduction to linguistics and conveys respect for the diversity of human language.  Schools with ELL populations may find this species of special interest.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries. Preschools.

Where would you shelve it? Board books or picture books. If you have a bilingual section, it could also go there.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes. The striking artwork and multilingual presentation are unique.

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: July 26, 2021

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