Review of Fungi Grow

Fungi Grow Fungi Grow
by Maria Gianferrari; illus. by Diana Sudyka
Primary    Beach Lane/Simon    48 pp.
10/23    9781665903653    $18.99
e-book ed.  9781665903660    $10.99

The partnership of an action-oriented text and vibrant watercolor illustrations creates an enthusiastic introduction to the growth and effects (both positive and negative) of various forms of fungi. Gianferrari explains that fungi spores disperse in various ways: some “puff” with the wind, others “plop” with the rain, and still others spread through “stink and slime”: “pee-ew!” Sudyka illustrates each onomatopoeic word with large lettering that graphically reflects the sound. For example, the letters in puff look like cotton balls, those in plop are thin with long vertical lines resembling falling rain, and flies swarming around the grisly black and gray shivery lines of pee-ew are appropriately gross. This complementary pattern of text-telling and illustration-showing continues as Gianferrari discusses how fungi grow: mycorrhizal fungi’s delicate filigree threads connect trees to the “wood-wide web,” while sometimes fungi “erupt” from rotting wood. A particularly dramatic illustration shows brown and rust and gray artist’s bracket fungi covering a decaying stump. This passion for fungal biology is obvious not only in Gianferrari’s use of scientific terms and explanations (in small type) throughout but also in the comprehensive back matter: a glossary that expands text definitions, a discussion of how fungi heal and help, some related facts, a diagram of one mushroom’s life cycle, sources, recommended reading, and pertinent online resources. Terrific.

From the September/October 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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