Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants - Book Review

As an artist, I am always looking for inspiration from other artists. It’s good to study their work and techniques to incorporate them into your practice. So, I could not help but do a book review on the whimsy and delicate illustrations of Plantastic! A to Z of Australian Plants.

The cover is a perfect representation of what to expect inside. The textures, vivid colours and curious plants and animals just make you want to read more.

Plantastic - book cover

This book was written by Catherine Clowes. She is a botanist dedicated to sharing and teaching about native Australian plants. Catherine is a field botanist working towards her PhD in botany, and she loves teaching about the fascinating natural world. The author wrote this book for her kids to learn about the plants she studies in a manner that they would enjoy it. She is pleased to be able to share it with other young nature enthusiasts too as said in the author bio behind the book.

The beautiful illustrations were done by Rachel Gyan, a multidisciplinary illustrator based in Melbourne, Australia. Rachel enjoys studying and illustrating Australian flora and fauna, drawing inspiration from the outback's beautiful and unique nature. She is passionate about artistically telling stories with her heartfelt illustrations. Check out her website and Instagram for more inspiration.

Brief Summary

The book explores 26 different Australian plants for each corresponding letter in the alphabet. It starts with a 'How to Use This Book' section. You can read the quick Plantastic facts or read the detailed explanations. There are even some Plantastic activities to get you exploring.

Plantastic - how to use this book

Each plant takes up the space of two pages, which includes an explanation about the plant’s fruits flowers and how they survive and thrive in the varied Australian ecoregions. The book is packed with lovely illustrations, so you will have plenty to look at and read. 

Plantastic - Banksia spread

At the end of the book, you will find a map that shows you the different ecoregions in Australia and where you can find these plants. After reading it, this book hopes you can become an Australian 'plant-spert'.

Plantastic - plant echoregions

Art analysis

The illustrations are simple, with rough and loose brushwork. The colours are vibrant with a bold palette. All the drawings are delicate, whimsical and beautiful, making you want to pour all your attention into each one. Every drawing has an interesting use of textures to capture the personality of each plant, and the layout of each spread is playful and curious, which makes you want to read and learn about them.

Plantastic - Indigo plant spread

My overall opinion

The illustrations were the obvious star of the book, but the writing was perfect for people who are not botanists. The language is simple and easy to digest.

Some of these plants have unusual names, have fun trying to pronounce them!

My favourite spread has to be the one dedicated to the kangaroo paw, but that might be because I secretly want to plant them in my garden.

Plantastic - Kangaroo paw spread

The book also made me feel excited about the wildflower season. When spring rolls around, I will be taking this book along with me when I’m out looking for plants and flowers to draw.

This book does not let you down; every corner is a delight to look at and a great page-turner. While the book is directed towards kids, any artist will enjoy the detailed work and well explained writing, no matter if you are a plant enthusiast or not.

So, if you are looking for a unique plant and animal illustrations style, do get the book. I am not affiliated with Booktopia, but you can purchase it for only $24.75 AUD on their website.

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