“Karl, Get Out of the Garden: Carolus Linnaeus and the Naming of Everything,”
by Anita Sanchez, illustrated by Catherine Stock.
Charlesbridge Press, Watertown, Massachusetts, 2017, 48 pages, Grades 3-5.
Today, all plants and animals have names. It is easy to recognize a species of wildlife by its common characteristics. But a deer is not an elk and an elk is not a moose. So how do we know what to call each of these animals? The same is true of all types of flowers, trees and insects. What allows us to identify them?
The answers to these interesting questions can be found in the research done 275 years ago by the famous Swedish botanist, Carolus Linnaeus. At that time, there was no organization to the naming structure of animals and plants. Linnaeus carefully constructed a system to give all plants and animals names. We still use this system today. Anita Sanchez tells the fascinating story of Carolus Linnaeus’s great work in creating the naming order for plants, animals and insects used by scientists today.
As a young child, Karl Linnaeus is intrigued by all the plants and animals in his back yard. His mother doesn’t know what to do since he continually chases after butterflies and carefully studies nearby beetles. His interest continues to expand and soon he is looking for birds, snakes, fish and anything else in the forest.
His parents want him to be a normal child and enroll him in school. There, the young boy studies Latin and Greek with little enthusiasm. But he keeps studying and exploring and eventually makes his way to Uppsala University in Sweden and receives degrees in botany and medicine.
After this time, Karl makes his famous study of the botany in Lapland, the northernmost area in Sweden. Here he begins developing the famous classification system for plants, animals, insects and other species in the physical world. At first his system arouses great ire in the scientific community. The existing systems had aggressive defenders determined to protect the older orders.
But Karl finally just kept on studying and naming everything that he encountered. The Linnaean System will eventually be used to name all plant, animal, insect, fish and reptilian life. By the end of his life, Karl Linnaeus will be knighted by the King of Sweden. What accounts for all of this?
How does he achieve so much? Where does his genius come from? Is there controversy in his life? What is his famous system based on? Why is Latin such a key component of the system? How does a botanist become ranked as one of the most influential people in history? To find out the answers to these and other questions, go to the library and check out Anita Sanchez’s interesting book, “Karl, Get Out of the Garden.”
In addition to being an enjoyable read, the illustrations in this book will be attractive to readers. There is a delight in the picture of Karl examining flowers and animals. One gets the idea that Linnaeus was something of a poet and a philosopher as well as a botanist.
You will enjoy reading this book with your children and grandchildren. The text and pictures make for a very pleasant book sharing. I enjoyed the book and think you will as well.