I admit it, I think fungi are fascinating. Perhaps it is because they are so different from other types of organisms, such as plants and animals. There is an air of mystery about them. One day the ground seems to be bare, the next it is filled with a ring of mushrooms. Where did those incredible shapes come from?
In Molds, Mushrooms & Other Fungi, Steve Parker gives an overview of the different types of fungi and tells what isn’t considered to be a fungus. Did you know a slime mold is not a true fungus? He explains how diverse fungi such as molds, yeast and mushrooms feed, how they reproduce, and how they are useful. He also reveals many of their mysteries.
Part of the Kingdom Classification series, this is a timely book because it also contains the most up-to-date information about classification of living things. When scientists classify organisms, they group them together rather like you organize your clothes in a dresser. Socks go in one drawer and pants in another. People often assume that the organization is set in stone once it has been published. In actuality, as scientists learn more about various living things, they may change the groups. This week shorts and pants go together, next week they may not.
You will likely run into older books that say fungi are plants, for example Plants That Never Bloom by Ruth Heller. In Molds, Mushrooms & Other Fungi, Steve Parker sets the record straight. Fungi are considered to be in a separate kingdom. On pages 44 and 45, the newest biological classification developed in the 1990’s is laid out. The largest groupings are called domains, including the bacteria, archaea and eukarya. Fungi are considered to be eukarya based on their cellular structure. The discussion of the relationships between domains, kingdoms and then the groups within the fungi kingdom are shown in a way that easy to grasp.
If you like a book with brilliant color photographs, then you are going to love this one. Starting with the eye-catching bright red toadstool on the front cover, every page is beautifully laid out and visually appealing. Each photo makes you stop and ponder, there will be no leafing through this one. The section on “Tasty Fungi” looks good enough to eat.
With a wealth of information about fungi, and well organized and current examination of classification, this book clearly deserves a place on the shelf.
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Library Binding: 48 pages
Published: August 15, 2009
Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 9.2 x 0.3 inches
This book was from Capstone Press.
For hands-on activities to do with fungi, check the Fungus Among Us at Growing With Science blog.
To see how leafcutter ants grow fungus in underground gardens, check my newest blog.