Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Garden of Ordinary Miracles An Alphabet Book

I can’t imagine a better time to review a book on flowers than the beginning of spring.

“A Garden of Ordinary Miracles An Alphabet Book” (Universe Publishing, 2012), by Robert Zakanitch, is a beautifully illustrated text that offers the names of ordinary flowers and what they look like. The author has hand-rendered the images and organized the flowers alphabetically.

It will teach children and adults what flowers look like and how to use them in the garden. This 64-page book lists each plant beginning with A and ending with Z. Each letter represents a flower commonly found in the garden that will add color.

Children will enjoy the illustrations, and adults will learn that flowers can be referred to by common or botanical name. The author prefers illustrating flora by common name making it easier for children to learn names of the plants and what they should look like. Adults will learn that some flowers are better identified by scientific names to find the correct plant.
For example, the first plant in the “Alphabet Book” is azalea, but if you want to find an azalea at a garden center, it would probably be found under its botanical name of rhododendron. If your attention was captured in early spring by the plant called forget-me-not, its correct botanical name is myosotis and would be found under that name. If you like Johnny-jump-ups find them under viola. That’s the proper genus for this violet. Larkspurs will be found under the botanical name of delphinium.

Children will learn flowers they like as they read or look through the collection of Zakanitch’s storybook-style book. Drawings are woven through it to create the story line. Adults can search for flowers that they might have forgotten to plant in their garden in 2012, learning to identify them by their common or botanical names.

There is so much to look at and enjoy on each page. Readers will be enchanted and entranced by the intricately detailed and whimsical nature of Zakanitch’s art, combining pen and ink and color on the same page. It’s worth acquiring for the artwork alone and fascinating to discover which flowers were used because of their common name and those listed by botanical names in order to achieve the A to Z plant listing. If you have a question about which name is common or botanical, use a horticultural text such as ”The American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers,” edited by Christopher Brickell.

©2013 Joel M. Lerner
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Editor, Sandra Leavitt Lerner