Sue Shanks reviews I Ate Sunshine for Breakfast by Michael Holland & Philip Giordano

I Ate Sunshine for Breakfast is a book that explodes in front of you as soon as it comes out of the envelope or as it sits in the bookshop. The intriguing title and vibrant front cover ensures that the reader is compelled to open the book and read on.

The contents are clearly laid out at the beginning into four parts – ‘All About Plants’; ‘World of Plants’; ‘From Breakfast until Bedtime’ and ‘The Power of Plants’. Each of these sections is comprised of a number of double page spreads relating to a relevant aspect of plants.

Information about plants is packed onto each page with full-page, captivating, stylistic, quirky artwork annotated and interspersed with text. This format might seem confusing but I did not find it so.

Highly coloured, the illustrations lose none of their accuracy of information and are laid out in a way that is clear, simple and visually pleasing as well as being instructive.

Equally I felt that the text alongside complements the artwork by using language that is straightforward, conversational and accessible whilst retaining an appropriate scientific and detailed level of content. In this way, some plant processes such as plant structure, photosynthesis and pollination, that can be difficult to grasp, are presented very clearly.

Once the basics of plant growth have been covered the book moves on to investigate more about plants – the range of type and form, the way that plants sustain us in our daily lives and the far-reaching properties that plants have that influence all aspects of our world.

Throughout the book the reader is presented with a number of simple artistic and scientific projects that could be undertaken at home or at school, all designed to demonstrate an interesting fact or the range of
resources afforded by plants.

I can imagine that at primary school level, both KS1 and KS2 teachers would find this brilliant book a really useful resource for their programmes of study around plants, as well as providing additional information for many other curriculum areas such as geography, art, PSHE or environmental education.

Personally I loved reading this book and I think it would inspire any reader, young or old, to re-consider their views of a plant world that all too often is taken for granted or ignored.

Holland, M., and Gordano, P. (2020). I ate sunshine for breakfast: a celebration of plants around the world. London: Flying Eye Books. ISBN: 978-191-911171-18-8.

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