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Formats
Hardcover Details
  • 03/2021
  • 978-0-9998960-1-3 0999896016
  • 48 pages
  • $17.99
Matt Ritter
Author
Something Wonderful
Matt Ritter, author

Children/Young Adult; Science & Nature; (Market)

This educational and interactive picture book immerses the reader in the strange and interwoven lifecycles of a tropical fig tree in the rainforest, and the tiny insects and colorful creatures that call it home. Following the growth of a seed haphazardly dropped into the canopy of a rainforest tree by a flying toucan, Something Wonderfulteaches the interdependence of rainforest ecology in an easy-to-follow, captivating story. Flip the beautifully illustrated pages and experience the journey of the fig seedling making its own roots and leaves, growing strong, eventually replacing the giant tree that was its host, making figs, attracting pollinators, and developing its life-giving seeds. Something Wonderful happens next. The delectable fig fruit is hungrily eaten by a passing toucan who, upon flight, aimlessly drops a seed from its poop into the treetops below, beginning the fig’s lifecycle once again. Discover additional scientific information about the pollination process, insects, and animals found in the story in an illustrated section at the end of the book. Readers can play a “seek and find” game of locating the elusive red-eyed tree frog on each page of the story. Take a journey, from the tiny to the grandiose, while making your way through the tropical rainforest on the path to uncover Something Wonderful…
Reviews
This beautiful and informative first children’s book from botanist Ritter (California Plants) explains the interdependent relationship of fig trees and wasps in a tropical forest. The story begins the moment a fig tree’s seed falls onto the branch of another tree. It eventually grows roots that overcome the host tree. Years later, the tree’s fruits become hosts to fig wasps, which lay their eggs while pollinating the seeds inside a fig, beginning their own life cycle inside. When grown, the males chew exit holes for the females to escape and carry pollen to the next fig tree. Finally, the figs are eaten by toucans who excrete the seeds.

Using his extensive knowledge as a botany professor and natural history writer, Ritter crafts a riveting narrative about a relatively obscure subject, catering to young readers with an interest in the natural world. Some language may be difficult for younger audiences to understand without explanation (“The seed settled onto a branch and did what seeds do: it germinated”), but the book is ideal for reading and discussing with adults, who may also learn something new. Ritter includes fun and digestible fact sheets about the red-eyed tree frog and the chestnut-mandibled toucan that make appearances in the story.

Gonzalez’s detailed illustrations provide a perfect complement to the story, with colorful, engaging imagery that aids readers in understanding each stage of the life cycles Ritter describes. Going deep inside the fig, Gonzalez shows the female wasp laying the eggs, the eggs hatching, and the new female wasps gathering pollen while the males chew holes. Gonzalez’s clear diagram of the wasps’ life cycle is a helpful addition to Ritter’s dry fact sheet. A tree frog hidden on each page is a delightful addition, gamifying the learning experience. Parents and educators will eagerly share this vivid picture book with budding botanists.

Takeaway: Older children interested in ecosystems will enjoy this fun picture book about the interdependence of fig trees and fig wasps.

Great for fans of Rebecca Bielawski’s Bees Like Flowers.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Formats
Hardcover Details
  • 03/2021
  • 978-0-9998960-1-3 0999896016
  • 48 pages
  • $17.99

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