Karl, Get Out of the Garden! by Anita Sanchez

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Karl, Get Out of the Garden! by Anita Sanchez (illustrated by Catherine Stock; Charlesbridge, 2017) is a picture book biography of Carolus Linneas, the first to set up the a systematic way of classifying living things by giving each thing a scientific name. Carolus Linneaus is the Latin version of Karl Linne, a scientist who lived in Scandinavia in the 1700s. With gentle and detailed illustrations, the author and illustrator introduces young readers to a boy who loved nature even as a young toddler and child and then grew up to put nature in order, influencing the scientific community forever.

After introducing Karl’s interests and childhood, the author introduces why specific names for specific plants seemed so necessary. Karl decided he needed to help by putting the plants and animals in a logical order, initially in order to help the injured and ill in his community as a doctor. As he did so, he found an even grater need to separate living things into kingdoms, orders, families, and so forth. He traveled throughout Scandinavia and then the world to find different plants and animals to name and classify.

Unlike some naturalists, he studied how animals and plants were put together inside, thus recognizing that whales were mammals and not fish, for example. Scientists were not impressed with Karl’s new concepts. Just as many innovators are judged, Karl Linne was also scoffed at by professionals. Ignoring the critics, he kept traveling and naming living things around the world throughout his long life, ultimately making a huge difference. Scientists around the world can now refer to plants by their Latin names, no matter what language they spoke, and understand which exact living thing they are referring to.

The Linnaean system of naming is still used by biologists today, and this book full of nature illustrations is a great start to understanding the concept. It’s a bit longer than some picture books both in length and amount of text on each page, so I’d recommend it to children 8 and up. The concepts within the story and the end matter could be more than enough for an educational unit about kingdoms of life and classification of living things.

Reviewed on June 14, 2024

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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