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Rooting for Plants

Rooting for Plants

The Unstoppable Charles S. Parker, Black Botanist and Collector

Janice N. Harrington
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Meet Charles S. Parker, an unsung yet trailblazing Black scientist who made major contributions to the fields of botany (the study of plants) and mycology (the study of fungi) in this inspiring STEM/STEAM picture book biography.


In 1882, Black botanist and mycologist Charles S. Parker sprouted up in the lush, green Pacific Northwest. From the beginning, Charles's passion was plants, and he trudged through forests, climbed mountains, and waded into lakes to find them. When he was drafted to fight in World War I, Charles experienced prejudice against Black soldiers and witnessed the massive ecological devastation that war caused. Those experiences made him even more determined to follow his dreams, whatever the difficulties, and to have a career making things grow, not destroying them.


As a botanist and teacher, Charles traveled the United States, searching for new species of plants and fungi. After discovering the source of the disease killing peach and apricot trees, Charles was offered a job at Howard University, the famed historically Black college where he taught the next generation of Black scientists--men and women--to love plants and fungi as much as he did.


Janice N. Harrington is an award-winning poet and children's author. Her recent title, Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner, was listed among NSTA Best STEM Books and the Nonfiction Detectives' Best Nonfiction Book, and Chasing a Storyfish was A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year. Her books The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County and Going North won many awards and citations, including a listing among TIME magazine's top 10 children's books and the Ezra Jack Keats Award from the New York Public Library. She is a professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.


Theodore Taylor III is an illustrator and comic artist. He received the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe New Talent Award and the Texas Bluebonnet Award for When The Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop. He is also the illustrator of the forthcoming graphic novel, Garvey's Choice by Nikki Grimes.



  • Publisher: ‎Calkins Creek (August 29, 2023)
  • Language: ‎English
  • Hardcover: ‎48 pages
  • ISBN-10: ‎1662680198
  • ISBN-13: ‎9781662680199
  • Reading age: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade level: ‎2 - 5
  • Item Weight: ‎1 pound
  • Dimensions: ‎0.04 x 0.04 x 0.04 inches
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