Born in 1707, Karl Linné was an inquisitive child who enjoyed the outdoors, loved plants, and wanted to know the names for everything. He discovered that scientists, farmers, and doctors tended to disagree with one another about the naming of flora and fauna—the same plant might have several different titles. Linné wanted to bring order to this chaos, so he set out to create a convention from which to designate plants and animals. Linné classified and named more than 12,000 species of plants and animals, and his Latin classification system was accepted and used by scientists across the globe. What had seemed an insurmountable task was completed by Linné, portrayed here as a figure with a boundless imagination and fascination for nature. In 1757, he was knighted by the king of Sweden and thus gave himself a new name, Carolus Linnaeus. Stock’s impressionistic pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations are subdued, with spots of bright color, and adeptly match the content and the tone of the work. VERDICT The biographical approach to a knotty scientific subject makes this a valuable addition to STEM and biography collections.
—School Library Journal
An inveterate nature lover classifies plants and animals—and changes the world of science forever. Even as a tiny child in 18th-century Sweden, Karl Linne adored spending time in his family’s garden. As he grew, he examined plants and bugs for hours while avoiding the stuffy confines of the schoolroom. As a medical student learning to use his beloved plants as remedies, he realized how chaotic “scientific” nomenclature really was at the time: no one agreed on specific names for plants and animals, nor was there even much general consensus about what type of living thing was what. Determined to bring order to the madness, Linne set out to classify the world’s known plants and animals by giving each a “clear and simple name”—hardly an easy task given the vast diversity of living things. Yet classify life forms Linne did, in his usual painstaking way. Later in life, as a revered scientist, he “classified” even himself by adopting the—what else?—Latin name “Carolus Linnaeus,” the name by which he is still known to this day. This is an interesting, clearly written, and accessible biography about a major yet lesser-known figure who revolutionized scientific thought. The charming pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations are bright and cheerful and work well with the narrative. A good introduction to a man in a class by himself.
Even as a baby in Sweden, Karl Linné (later Carolus Linnaeus) was drawn to bugs and plants; as he grew older, the system of nomenclature he’s known for came about because of practical reasons: “He studied hard and soon began using his beloved plants to cure people’s ailments. There was just one problem. Which plant was which?…. Some plants had thirty or forty different names!” Stock (Emily and Carlo) works in scraggly pen, ink, and watercolor, befitting the mood of Linnaeus’s “exciting, rowdy field trips into the woods and meadows—expeditions with hundreds of students, lasting from morning till night.” Sanchez (Leaflets Three, Let it Be!) lends significant humanity to the naturalist, whose scientific contributions are now so familiar, they are easy to take for granted.
Fascinated by plants from an early age, Karl Linné, better known today as Linnaeus, preferred the garden to the schoolroom. Later, he chose to study medicine, a discipline that, in the early 1700s, often relied on plants for healing. And in that pursuit, he found his calling. Realizing that the many different names used for each plant were making it difficult to communicate about which specific one might cure an ailment, Linnaeus decided to name every plant and animal, and he set up an organized system to classify them. Though controversial in its day, it became the standard system of scientific classification and nomenclature, and it survives in modified form today. An environmental educator and the author of Leaflets Three, Let It Be (2014), Sanchez writes clearly about the challenges, rewards, and significance of Linnaeus’s work in the main text, leaving details about his family and the later evolution of his classification system to the informative back matter, which includes sources for the quotes appearing alongside many of the illustrations. Featuring a profusion of plants and animals and
incorporating quotes from the famous naturalist, Stock’s expressive artwork brightens every page. A handsome introductory book on Linnaeus and his work.
—Booklist (STARRED REVIEW)