Alexander von Humboldt: A Botanist and Adventurer

Have you heard of the book series Little People, BIG DREAMS?

I only just learned about it and I have to say, the book I’m sharing today from this series is amazing.

Little People, BIG DREAMS is a bestselling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. (The Quarto Group)

Title: Alexander von Humboldt
Author: Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
Illustrator: Sally Agar
Series: Little People, BIG DREAMS
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Publication Date: 28 June 2022
Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
ISBN: 99780711271227
For ages: 4-7

A big thank you to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group for the advanced readers copy.

Disclosure: This review contains affiliate links.


Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was born in the Kingdom of Prussia (modern-Germany). From a very young age he was extremely interested in nature and was always collecting plants and shells. When he was 30 years old he went on a daring adventure, with French botanist Aime Bonpland, to explore Central and South America. Guided by the local Indigenous people, he spent five years travelling through the area and recording everything he saw and learned.

What I Thought:

I loved this book and was genuinely impressed with the writing. Sometimes non-fiction for young kids can sound stilted and overly simplified, but not this one! It contains lots of interesting detail and information that I’m sure readers will enjoy.

Alexander encountered electric eels and volcanoes, he experienced earthquakes, he climbed the highest known mountain at the time, and with help from Indigenous guides he traversed Mexico from coast-to-coast.

I especially like the emphasis on von Humboldt’s recognition of the inter-connectedness of the world. When he finally returned home, he spent the rest of his life documenting his findings and his new-found knowledge of the unity of nature.

As you can see from the images above, the illustrations are gorgeous. They’re colorful, charming, informative and do a great job of enhancing the text.

In my opinion, this wonderful book will work well in classrooms from Grade 1 to 4, either as a read-aloud or for independent reading.

Book Extensions:

1. Alexander was the first western scientist to recognize the unity of nature. Discuss what that means with your students. Then encourage them to draw, colour, or paint a big picture that depicts their understanding.

2. A variety of different animals are mentioned in the book. Have your students choose a favourite to research.

3. Check out the Little People, BIG DREAMS website. If you click on “Extras” you’ll find all sorts of free teacher resources.

4. Bright Horizons has a wonderful article about the benefits of nature for kids.

5. The Crazy Outdoor Mama is giving away 7 free camping scavenger hunt printables that look like a lot of fun.

6. I have a free word search to share with you.

DOWNLOAD: Alexander von Humboldt Word Search

I hope you get yourself a copy of this amazing book — I know you’ll love it!

You can see more great book reviews here.



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