This innovative book and its 52 playing cards with flowers and families on them comes with instructions for 5 different card games to enhance learning of major family characteristics of flowering plants.  The story in the book weaves in botanical facts into a children’s adventure story about the girl Shanleya, which really is a story about the evolution of plants and life on earth, set as part of island discoveries of a young indigenous woman. It can be read independent of the card game, and is gorgeously illustrated by Gloria Brown.

The focus of the card game are on the families of mint (Apiaceae), parsley (Apiaceae), mustards (Brassicaceae), legumes (Fabaceae), grasses (Poaceae), roses (Rosaceae), and asters (Asteraceae) – some monocots with conspicuous flowers are also included. Family cards have key character drawings on them, and species cards are photos of flowers and inflorescences.

Website for the book and the card game.  It is also available in Spanish as “La Búsqueda de Shanleya: Una aventura botánica para niños de 9 a 99 años”.

Free lesson plan for grade 3-8

Read the description from the author below:


Shanleya’s Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids Ages 9 to 99

In a mythical world where time is a liquid that falls as rain upon the land, young Shanleya paddles her canoe out to the “Tree Islands” to learn the plant traditions of her people. Each island is home to a separate family of plants and an unforgettable Guardian with lessons to teach about the identification and uses of those plants.

Shanleya’s Quest is a truly unique educational book that presents botanical concepts and plant identification skills in an easy and fun metaphorical format for children as well as for adults who are young at heart.

The book begins with a creation myth that parallels evolutionary concepts, where life begins as bubbles in a puddle of soup under the radiance of Father Sun and the gentle glow of Mother Moon. The evolutionary tree of life becomes a literal part of the story, buried up to its branch-tips (the “islands”) in an ocean of Time that just keeps getting deeper and deeper. This is the world that Shanleya explores by canoe, learning the essential characteristics of closely related plants on each island she visits.

Readers young and old can join Shanleya’s Quest, learning the patterns to correctly identify more than 45,000 species of plants to their proper families. The Quest will change the way you see the world, enabling you to experience nature in a new and magical way that you probably never imagined possible.

Read the book. Play the game! The Shanleya’s Quest Patterns in Plants Card Game (sold separately) is a fun way to test your skills at identifying the family patterns described in Shanleya’s Quest. Learn to see the patterns in the game. Then you will be able to recognize them in the real world!  Many different plant identification games are possible with this deck of cards, including Memory, Slap Flower, Crazy Flowers, Wildflower Rummy, and Shanleya’s Harvest.