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Children's Nonfiction Flowers & Plants

Pretty Tricky

The Sneaky Ways Plants Survive

by (author) Etta Kaner

illustrated by Ashley Barron

Owlkids Books Inc.
Initial publish date
Sep 2020
Flowers & Plants, Botany, Environmental Science & Ecosystems
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2020
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 7 to 10
  • Grade: 2 to 5


Have you ever thought of plants as tricky? Probably not. But in this nonfiction book, readers are introduced to the tricky techniques some plants use to defend themselves, reproduce, or acquire food. From the copycat Boquila vine that changes shape to match its host plant, to the pungent carrion flower that lures pollinating flies with the scent of rotten meat, plants across the globe have adapted to survive all kinds of threatening fauna.

Each amazing plant adaptation is described through fact bubbles and easy-to-grasp blocks of text. End matter includes a list of sources for kids to explore, a glossary defining scientific terms, and an index.

Brought to life with eye-popping cut-paper collage illustrations, this book is a garden of knowledge that will leave kids with a better understanding of how living things adapt to their environments.

About the authors


ETTA KANER est une ex-enseignante. De nos jours, elle écrit principalement des documentaires pour les enfants et les éducateurs. Plusieurs de ses livres ont été primés; elle a notamment remporté le Silver Birch Award, le Animal Behavior Society Award et le Science in Society Book Award. Etta vit à Toronto, en Ontario.


ETTA KANER writes for both children and educators. A number of her books have won awards, namely, the Silver Birch award, the Animal Behaviour Society award, and the Science in Society book award. Etta lives in Toronto, Ontario.


Etta Kaner's profile page

ASHLEY BARRON’s vibrant cut-paper collage illustrations appear in more than twelve picture books, including Chaiwala! by Priti Maheshwari, My City Speaks by Darren Lebeuf (winner of the Schneider Family Book Award), City Baby by Laurie Elmquist (a Bank Street Best Book of the Year) and Pretty Tricky by Etta Kaner (a Kirkus Best Picture Book and an Outstanding Science Trade Book). Ashley lives with her partner and three cats in Toronto, Ontario.

Ashley Barron's profile page


  • Commended, Best Books for Kids and Teens
  • Short-listed, B.C. Children's Choice Red Cedar Book Award
  • Commended, Outstanding Science Trade Book
  • Short-listed, Lane Anderson Award for Canadian Science Writing
  • Commended, A Kirkus Best Picture Book of 2020

Editorial Reviews

"Barron’s stellar artwork is a standout. Her captivating illustrations could motivate readers to further research the featured plants and animals."

School Library Journal

"Ideal for general science and biology classrooms everywhere... Full of interesting content as well as gorgeous and intriguing illustrations... a treasure trove of wonder."

Seattle Book Review

"With interesting facts on every page and vibrant art full of lively scenery, one thing is certain: readers won’t look at plants the same way again."


"Pretty Tricky will give young readers some interesting information about the different strategies and adaptations plants have developed to help them survive, find food, reproduce and defend themselves."

Canadian Review of Materials

"This book is sure to captivate the imaginations of children and could easily be tied into the curriculum for ages 7 to 10."

Green Teacher

"Plants from around the world are depicted with clever cut paper collage, looking both realistic and arrestingly artistic. Playful language and section headings make the informative text fun to read. With a table of contents, an index, sources and a glossary, this is a winning middle grade source for readers."

Youth Services Book Review

"Bright colored leaves and flowers spill over the pages while readers learn about plants that play dead, house stinging ants, and even explode pollen all over birds... I was completely enamored by all of the facts within these pages, and I hope the young botanist in your life is as well."

The Tiny Activist

"The cut paper collages are filled with texture and color, and nicely detailed to inspire curious young naturalists to head out and look more closely at plants."

Archimedes Notebook

"The layout is excellent, and the collages are extraordinary... there’s lots of information here. Plant this one on your bookshelf."

Kirkus Reviews – STARRED REVIEW

"There is much to learn here, and it is presented in a way that will keep readers moving forward... The book's design is exemplary, and the collage artwork is remarkable."

Sal's Fiction Addiction

"Kaner and Barron have crafted a beautiful collaboration celebrating a variety of plants that use a variety of methods to survive, thrive, and procreate."

Kiss the Book

Other titles by Etta Kaner

Other titles by Ashley Barron