Carolus Linnaeus and the Naming of Everything
Words by Anita Sanchez
Illustrations by Catherine Stock
Published by Charlesbridge (2017)
Copy provided by Wayne County Public Library.
Book photos taken by me.
“If you do not know the names of things,
the knowledge of them is lost, too.”
— Carolus Linnaeus
Blowball? Swine’s snout? Yellow daisy? Dandelion? What was the right name? Young Karl Linné wasn’t sure—and neither was anyone else! Doctors, gardeners, farmers—everybody!—argued about the names of plants and animals. How could scientists communicate if they couldn’t even agree on what to call things? Karl knew there was only one solution: to give EVERY LIVING THING in the world a scientific name. But that was an enormous job. Could he do it?
Karl Linné was born in spring of 1707. As a toddler, he enjoyed being in his father’s garden. He also liked all the bugs that he found. Growing up, Karl would always sneak to their garden. His mother wished he would stay indoors and study but Karl was bored out of his mind doing schoolwork.
Karl’s disappointed father considered apprenticing him to a shoemaker…
One of Karl’s teachers, however, suggested that Karl should work toward becoming a doctor because of Karl’s love of plants. Becoming a doctor was tough. Karl’s parents could barely afford to give him money for school but Karl was determined. He studied hard. Soon, he was using plants to cure people’s illnesses.
When Karl realized just how many types of plants there are and how much confusion there was regarding the names of these plants, he decided to get things organized. He was going to come up with clear, simple names for every living thing.
Karl Linné was only a youngster fresh out of school, but he wasn’t afraid of the challenge. He rolled up his sleeves and got to work. First he divided the living world into two kingdoms: the plant kingdom and the animal kingdom. Every name had only two parts. Short. Easy to remember.
Karl wrote books about naming the living world. Scientists raged when young Karl undermined their works. It was such a negative reception that even the Pope intervened, banned Karl’s works, and ordered that they be burned. Karl was frustrated but decided that it was pointless arguing with close-minded people. He went on his ways and became a teacher. It was through Karl’s students, who had traveled around the world, that people learned about Karl’s ideas. By creating a language of science that was universally understood, Karl Linné changed the way people saw the world.
“The first step in wisdom
is to know the things themselves.”
— Carolus Linnaeus
This picturebook biography written by Anita Sanchez was full of surprises. The book was longer than I expected but it certainly offered a very fascinating look at the life of the genius who classified living things. It focused primarily on his methods of and experiences in naming things.
Karl, Get Out of the Garden! is a great book for kids who love science and are very curious about their environment. As an adult, I find it very entertaining and informative. This is a must-have for anyone who likes to read picturebook biographies. After all, how often do you come across a picturebook about Carolus Linnaeus?