Flower Talk by Sara Levine, Masha D'Yans

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A cantankerous talking cactus reveals to readers the significance of different colors of flowers in terms of which pollinators (bees, bats, birds, etc.) different colors "talk" to.


'HEY, YOU! PSST! DOWN HERE! THAT'S RIGHT--I'M A PLANT, AND I'M TALKING TO YOU!' The brash narrator of this picture book is a small cactus with an attitude. Though prickly to the point of grouchiness, it's knowledgeable and entertaining, as well. It explains that, rooted in place, many plants need animals to carry pollen from one flower to another, enabling them to make seeds. To attract birds, bees, butterflies, and the like, they advertise using colors as signs. The cactus tells which colors, forms, and smells attract which animals, then tells listeners to 'take a hike' while its bud opens into a yellow blossom. Based on the flower's color, attentive kids may be able to guess which animals it will attract. The digitally enhanced paintings feature vivid splashes of color. An appended page, precisely illustrated with cross-sectional views and labelled with botanical terms, details the process of pollination. A good companion volume for Rebecca Hirsch's Plants Can't Keep Still (2016), this cleverly written and informative picture book is a lively choice for reading aloud.--Booklist


A plant who looks like a cross between a purple monster and a prickly pear directly addresses readers, explaining how plants communicate to pollinators: 'To make a seed, we need pollen from a different plant of our same type. How do we get that? We can't just waltz over and take some. That's why we need animals.' D'yans illustrates garden-variety flowers and insects in vibrant, swooshing watercolors. Levine offers accessible insights into plant life and the mutualism between plants and animals, though the narrator's casual bluntness ('It's time for you to leave now. Go take a hike') can feel at odds with the science-based content and more delicate visual elements.--Publishers Weekly


A crotchety cactus explains how flowers use color, shape, and even smell to attract pollinators. Flowers aren't talking to humans; they're talking to animals, those animals that can help them make their seeds through pollination. The text covers only cross-pollination; self-pollination is mentioned in the back matter. The narrator reveals which pollinators are attracted to what: red colors for birds; blue, purple, and yellow for bees; a perfumed white for moths and bats; stinky brown for flies; and a nice steady platform in many colors for butterflies. Green flowers appear on plants pollinated by wind. And the cactus adds, 'Blue and purple flowers are saying: Yo, bee! Could you help me move some of this pollen? And take some home for the kids! ' D'yans's watery paintings are especially appropriate for the subject, providing realistic variations in shading and revealing a gentle humor--the cactus drinks tea with a tea bag hanging rakishly from an ear; a bee has blossoms instead of stars in its eyes. For older readers, back matter explains pollination in more detail, with illustrations of pistils and stamens and developing seeds in the flower's ovary. A final note explains that some pollinators are endangered and suggests ways to help. There's also a short list of further reading. VERDICT Similar to Rita Gray's Flowers Are Calling, with a slightly more prickly appeal. Consider this a strong choice for most nonfiction shelves.--School Library Journal


Sara Levine is an author, educator and veterinarian. Her science books for children include Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons; Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers; Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones; Flower Talk: How Plants Use Color to Communicate, and Eye by Eye: Comparing Animal Peepers (2020). Her books have received a number of awards including AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize, Utah Beehive Book Award, Cook Prize finalist, Monarch Award master list, and Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year.

A classically trained painter and graphic designer, Masha D'yans was born in Europe, and her influences include nature, fairy tales, and Japanese art. Her vibrant watercolors have appeared on greeting cards, in calendars, and in children's books. She currently lives in Los Angeles, California. Visit her at www.masha.com.


0.6" H x 9.0" L x 10.7" W

32 pages