Cover image for Plantzilla
Nolen, Jerdine.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego : Harcourt, 2002.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 24 x 28 cm
In a series of letters a boy, his science teacher, and his parents discuss the progress of a very unusual, sometimes frightening, plant that becomes more human as the summer progresses.
Reading Level:
460 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.4 0.5 63618.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.3 2 Quiz: 31874 Guided reading level: M.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



Mortimer Henryson loves Plantzilla, the plant he's been taking care of all year in his third-grade classroom. He loves him so much, he takes him home for summer vacation. What could go wrong with a . . . plant? But life in the Henryson household soon takes a strange turn. A pot roast disappears, then steaks from the grill--and where has Mrs. Henryson's prize Chihuahua gone?
In this hilarious story told ingeniously through letters, Jerdine Nolen and David Catrow team up to show that when there's enough love, even the most unlikely character can become part of a family.

Author Notes

JERDINE NOLEN is the author of Raising Dragons , which won the Christopher Award and was a Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book for Children. She lives in Maryland.

DAVID CATROW has illustrated many books for children, including Cinderella Skeleton and The Emperor's Old Clothes , a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year. He lives in Ohio.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 1^-3. Throughout third grade, Mortimer sat next to and cared for an unusual plant, nicknamed Plantzilla by the class. When the school year ends, Mortimer takes the plant home for the summer. Then, as Mortimer showers Plantzilla with love and attention, strange things start happening. When the rapidly growing plant begins to take on human characteristics, Mortimer's parents start worrying--about their son and about the family Chihuahua, who went missing about the same time Plantzilla developed a taste for meat. A series of letters written by Mortimer and his mother to the science teacher are the perfect vehicle for telling the funny story, with humor spilling out, letter by letter, from the contrast between Mortimer's glowing reports of life with Plantzilla and frantic communications from Mortimer's mother. With every turn of the page, hilarious watercolors show Plantzilla's increasingly rapacious behavior. The sly humor in this clever picture book will appeal to older children as well as the usual picture-book audience. --Lauren Peterson

Publisher's Weekly Review

Employing the same tenderness and fanciful sense of wonder that characterized her Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm and Raising Dragons, Nolen delivers another picture book with a far-out premise and plenty of heart. A series of letters and postcards tells the tale. Third-grader Mortimer Henryson has successfully petitioned his parents and his science teacher, Mr. Lester, to allow him to bring the class plant, Plantcilia (nicknamed "Plantzilla" by the students), home over summer vacation. But Mortimer's parents worry when Plantzilla starts developing an appetite for meat, growing wildly and moving on its own and just what has become of Mrs. Henryson's prize-winning Chihuahua? It seems the more care and attention that Mortimer pays his favorite bit of flora, the more human-like Plantzilla becomes. As the transformation continues, the sprawling, blooming plant becomes literally part of the family. The book's distinctive design allows each character his or her (or its) own hand-lettered or typewritten form of expression, a playful touch (although newly independent readers may have trouble with Mrs. Henryson's cursive). Catrow's (Cinderella Skeleton) exuberant vine of a plant part Venus's-flytrap, part aloe vera and part whimsy creeps and curls from spread to spread, like an exotic jungle creature, and all of the humans look eccentric, too. His renderings of Plantzilla's high jinks, such as forming a two-man hockey team to play against Mortimer, compound the nutty fun. Ages 5-8. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-At the end of the school year, Mortimer takes a plant home from his third-grade classroom. Throughout the summer, Plantzilla continues to grow and Mortimer continues to love and nurture it. Strange things ensue. His quiet, boring, well-ordered household, complete with well-mannered cat and prize-winning Chihuahua, is totally disrupted: the plant starts to grow tentacles and to eat meat (the dog disappears) and perform all sorts of amazing feats. The boy's parents begin to worry, but the protagonist is delighted with his clever plant. The text is all in the form of letters-from Mortimer to his teacher describing the progress of his plant, from Mortimer's mother to Mr. Lester complaining about it, and from Mr. Lester to each of them. Catrow's watercolor-and-pencil illustrations spill across the pages, creating a marvelous sort of ubiquitous vine with tendrils curling all around, each one doing something different. The dog, cat, and several squirrels romp in its branches, and Mortimer dances and plays with his friend, who eventually becomes almost human and very benevolent. This humorous story may be shared with a group but will be best savored by individual readers who will have fun absorbing the wildly imaginative illustrations close up.-Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.