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The Picture Book Buzz

Funky Fungi - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

I was so excited when my copy arrived! Although a 115 page book is not usually considered a picture book, I think it's a wonderful book for a wide range of readers (PB, MG, and adult). This is one of those great books that can be left on the coffee table for pastime perusal, used to enhance an investigation or unit on fungus, or devoured cover to cover as an intriguing journey into the wonderful world of Funky Fungi.

Funky Fungi: 30 Activities for Exploring Molds, Mushrooms, Lichens, and More

Authors: Alisha Gabriel & Sue Heavenrich

Publisher: Chicago Review Press (2022)

Ages: 7-9



Fungus, exploration, investigation, and discovery.


Fungi are everywhere!

They live in the coldest corner of Antarctica and on hot, sandy desert dunes. They’re in the air you breathe and the food you eat. But fungi are more than pizza toppings.

They form partnerships with plants and help us clean up our planet through bioremediation. Some fungi eat our crops; others protect them. Some fungi cause diseases; others cure them. Some are bigger than you; others are so tiny you need a microscope to see them.

And now, people are finding ways to use fungi to make furniture, building materials, and even sneakers.

Opening Lines:

No matter where you are at this very minute, there is a good

chance that there’s a fungus or two nearby. That’s because fungi

(plural of fungus) live all around us. They live in the air, in our homes,

in soil and sand, on rocks, on plants and animals, in the deepest part

of the ocean, and even on your body. While some form

mushrooms, most fungi are so small you can’t see them

without using a microscope.

What I LOVED about this book:

After a brief introduction, which encourages kids to create an explorer's journal and kit, the book dives into "fungus fundamentals" and how mycologists study and classify fungi. With a lively, conversational text, stunning photographs, and attention grabbing sidebars - titled "From the Fungus Files," this book is packed full of amazing facts and fun. It masterfully wraps together the history (like Pier Antonio Micheli's discovery of how mushrooms grow and the Irish potato famine), humor (Why is it mycology and not fungology?), and science of fungi in a very accessible and compelling way.

Text © Sue Heavenrich & Alisha Gabriel, 2022.

Image © Alan Rockefeller & Sailko/ Wikimedia Commons, 2022.

Within each of the eight chapters, there are wide range of super fun STEAM activities, inventions, and experiments. Such as making "a FUNgus journal," dissecting a mushroom, "making a spore print," "building a simple microscope," designing and naming your own fungus, writing a haiku, and going on a lichen "expedition" or a supermarket investigation. Plus so many more. As the title notes, there are thirty such activities in all.

Text © Sue Heavenrich & Alisha Gabriel, 2022.

Image © Alan Rockefeller, 2022.

Alisha Gabriel and Sue Heavenrich have created a stunning book about fungi, their roles in nature (both good and bad), nutrition, and medicine. They also highlight ways investigators, shipping companies, farmers, and families are "putting fungi to work." I was personally fascinated by the "mycoremediation," where oyster mushrooms were used to try preventing pollutants and toxins from washing into the water system after California wildfires destroyed homes and businesses. But kids might get more of a kick out of "zombie-making" or "body-snatching" fungus, how a fungus was named Spongiforma squarepantsii, or making sneakers and clothing from mushrooms.

Text © Sue Heavenrich & Alisha Gabriel, 2022.

Image © Alisha Gabriel & Adidas, 2022.

The back matter includes a helpful glossary and index, online resources and bibliography, and a great teacher's guide. Overall, the engaging narrative, intriguing sidebars, stunning photographs and illustrations, and awesome activities, as well as scientist highlights make this a fantastic read with something for everyone kid and adult alike.


- make an origami or paper mushroom.

- check out Sue Heavenrich's blog post for mushroom cupcakes and bunch of other fun activities (

- pair this with Humongous Fungus by DK for some more fun images and facts about fungi.

If you missed the interview of Alisha Gabriel and Sue Heavenrich on Monday, find it (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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