Obstructing or Hiding Science? A book that puts forward complexity

I love a good picture book that brings forward a complex topic! The author John Light and illustrator Lisa Evans did an amazing job depicting science as a taboo concept in their book The Flower (2006). Although, I am not sure that was the intent of the author.

A taboo, according to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, is defined as “a prohibition imposed by social custom”. I think (for some) science might be a taboo or a subject that interferes with their believe systems (e.g., religion). Hence, they fear it.

Taboos are not new in our western society. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, taboos have been a cultural construct for a long time. In fact, the same article dates the word taboo back to the 1700. How interesting is that!

The book The Flower brings the concept of prohibiting science as the core idea of this beautiful picture book. In this book, the author brings to light the life of a person that lives in a small room in a city, and works at a library. The author, immediately sets the tone in the book by telling us that Brigg, the main character, works in the “dangerous books” section of the library. What a powerful statement! It then takes the reader to ponder when can books be dangerous. Can books be dangerous? What do you think?

What is a dangerous book? To me, is the one that makes claims without evidence.

Brigg smugles the book out of the library, and the story unfolds! The smuggled book, a science book, unlocks knowledge related to plants and something called a flower. How whimsical yet profound to give this idea of a dead concept-flowers in a city! It reminded me how we take so many things for granted. John Light, goes on to develop the story by having the main character stumble upon a packet of seeds which he then dares to grow. Again, another powerful point in the book where the main character dares to follow his curiosity. Through the remaining of the short but powerful picture book, Brigg does something bold and perhaps even against the norm, he “uses” science to enhance human’s lives.

The book ends with one of my favorite statements, “And he wondered…” So, if you are interested in talking about this topic with your child this is the perfect picture book! Get the book <a href=”http:// “>here {Affiliate link at no extra cost to you.}


Definition of TABOO. (n.d.). In Dictionary by Merriam-Webster: America’s most-trusted online dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/taboo?utm_campaign=sd&utm_medium=serp&utm_source=jsonld

Taboo. (n.d.). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/taboo-sociology

Published by Reizelie Barreto, PhD

Reizelie is a former homeschool parent and a trained science and Montessori teacher with a passion for curriculum development. She loves learning and teaching and on her spare time she helps families create home environments that enrich a child's learning. Reizelie has a PhD in science education and has been working in the field of education for the last 19 years. She loves helping teachers, schools, and homeschooling families improve their science curriculum in ways that are authentic to scientists' work.

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