"Exploring the unmowed corners of the world."

Books by Anita Sanchez

Anita Sanchez is an award-winning author of books on environmental science and nature for children and adults.

Her many recognitions include:

William Allen White Master List 2020

Cook Prize Honor Book

John Burroughs Society Riverby Award

SONWA Award Notable Book

Finalist for AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books

Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature Best Children’s Books of the Year

American Horticultural Society “Growing Good Kids” Award


Rotten! Vultures, Beetles, and Slime: Nature’s Decomposers

Open this book to uncover the dirty rotten truth about one of nature’s most fascinating processes.

A Junior Library Guild Selection

Rotten! Vultures, Beetles, Slime, and Nature's Other Decomposers by Anita SanchezA funny and fact-filled look at decomposition in all of its slimy glory, illustrated with dazzling full-color art by Gilbert Ford. Vultures, fungi, dung beetles, and more aid in this fascinating and sometimes smelly aspect of the life cycle that’s right under our noses.

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ITCH: Everything You Didn’t Want to Know About What Makes You Scratch.

Everybody gets itchy, and every kid will love this title that scratches the itch to know more about the history, anatomy, botany, biology behind it.

You can feel it coming on—that terrible, tortuous ITCH. It’s your body’s way of sending you a message you can’t miss. And there are so many things that make us itch—from fungus to fleas, mosquitoes to nettles, poison ivy to tarantulas!

Combining history, anatomy, laugh-out-loud illustrations, and even tips to avoid—and soothe—the itch, Anita Sanchez takes readers on an intriguing look into what makes you scratch. Illustrations by Gilbert Ford. 

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Where to buy

ITCH is a Junior Library Guild selection.

“A fun, intriguing, and accessible mix of anatomy and history, with a healthy dose of gross.”–Kirkus, STARRED review
“Factual and surprisingly fun, here’s a very readable book about a common experience.”–Booklist, STARRED review


Wait Till It Gets Dark!

It’s night. It’s dark. Time to go indoors—or is it? The outdoors at night can be a scary place. Wait Till It Gets Dark by Anita Sanchez and George Steele will help young readers investigate the mysterious nature of night.

Illustrations by John Himmelman

Discover nighttime landscapes and the nocturnal animals that inhabit them, from desert coyotes to the frog chorus in a backyard pond—and a corner of the bathroom at midnight where a spider lurks…

Can you walk as silently as a fox? Use your night vision like an owl? Follow a scent trail? Filled with activities and ideas, this book invites readers of all ages to explore the mysterious world of their own backyards after dark.


Karl, Get Out of the Garden!

Swine’s snout? Yellow daisy? Dandelion?

 What was the right name? Young Karl Linné wasn’t sure—and neither was anyone else!

Doctors, gardeners, farmers—everybody!—argued about the names of plants and animals. How could scientists communicate if they couldn’t even agree on what to call things? 

Karl knew there was only one solution: to organize and name EVERY LIVING THING in the world. But it was an enormous job. Could he do it?  

He decided to try. Karl created a new language of science—and forever changed the way people saw the world.


Karl, Get out of the Garden! is a picture book biography of Carolus Linnaeus. The famous naturalist was a brilliant scientist whose system of binomial nomenclature–two names for each living thing–is still used today. But he started out as a curious little boy with a passion for weeds and bugs. His exuberant, outspoken, and defiant personality makes him a fascinating character.

Illustrations by Catherine Stock


In Praise of Poison Ivy

As a science writer, I’m fascinated by plants and animals that are unloved—like dandelions, tarantulas, and what is perhaps the world’s most hated plant—poison ivy.cover--in praise of poison ivy--sanchez

Millions of people are allergic to poison ivy, which contains one of the most potent toxins on earth. But the astounding paradox is that poison ivy is a plant of immense ecological value. It’s a plant of a powerful plant with a dramatic history and an increasingly important role in the American landscape. For me, poison ivy has served as a lens through which to take a closer look at the green world, and the changes and challenges that face our planet.

In Praise of Poison Ivy is a nonfiction book for adults, which explores the vices and virtues of a powerful plant with a dramatic history and an increasingly important role in the American landscape.

Leaflets Three, Let it Be!: The Story of Poison Ivy

Leaflets Three, Let it Be!: The Story of Poison Ivy is a children’s picture book, designed to help the youngest outdoor explorers both appreciate and avoid poison ivy.

Beautiful illustrations by Robin Brickman highlight the amazing variety of wildlife that use poison ivy for food and shelter. And no, they don’t get itchy–only humans are affected by the toxic three leaves. Bees buzz in poison ivy flowers, gathering poison ivy nectar. Cardinals use poison ivy rootlets to line their nests. Insects roll themselves up in a snug blanket of poison ivy leaves while toads hunt and spiders spin webs in the shade. And birds by the dozens come flocking to a poison ivy feast of winter berries.

Anita’s other published books include Mr. Lincoln’s Chair: The Shakers and Their Quest for PeaceThe Invasion of Sandy Bay, and The Teeth of the Lion: The Story of the Beloved and Despised Dandelion.

The Unmowed Blog

The unmowed corners.

That’s where life shoves through, grows to the sun, flourishes.

I stop every time I’m in a parking lot, a schoolyard, a graveyard–anywhere–and see what plants are growing. There’s unintended beauty in the untended places. I look to see what’s pushing through the cracks in the pavement. What the mowers have missed. What the weed whackers have failed to whack.

So come on this journey with me. Examine and rejoice in that which no one else notices.

Stop by often to see what’s going on in the parking lot! Read Unmowed Blog posts here.


A published author and professional educator, Anita Sanchez has many years of experience in providing classes and hands-on, participatory programs to a wide range of audiences.

The former director of Educational Programming at the Five Rivers Center with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, she has presented classes in schools throughout New England and New York State, and given workshops at the American Museum of Natural History, Colonial Williamsburg, Harvard Natural History Museum, the New York State Museum, and many other libraries, bookstores, museums, and classrooms.


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Pokeweed: Patience is a Virtue

Pokeweed berries are high-quality nutrition for cardinals, mockingbirds, catbirds, phoebes, mourning doves, cedar waxwings, etc. A big pokeweed like this could really make a difference for bird life.

Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep

I’m honored to be included in this groundbreaking look at the process of creating nonfiction.

Charlotte, Anne, and Emily Bronte: The Garden of Death

The Bronte sisters grew up surrounded by the bleak and beautiful moors of Yorkshire, England. But they lived in a cozy parsonage, surrounded by a huge cemetery.

Queen Anne’s Lace: Why the Purple?

What is the purpose of the purple flower in the center of Queen Anne’s lace? The answer is: no one knows. Maybe it’s a target for pollinators.

Royal Beauty: Marie Antoinette…and Poison Ivy?

Poison ivy was once an admired and sought-after garden plant, grown in gardens like Versailles and Buckingham Palace, as a beautiful American specimen.

Science Outdoors: Close Encounters

I write about the adventures waiting to be had nearby. My books are set close to home to open the possibilities of real-life nature exploration in every child’s environment.

Slugs and Fireflies

Firefly larvae are carnivorous. Slugs are a favorite item on their menu. If you want a summer night filled with fireflies, you have to welcome slugs.


A Goldenrod Safari

A hungry predator crawls through a leafy jungle. Slow cautious movements make no sound....

Let’s Not Argue About Climate Change

Even if you don’t believe in climate change, even if you deny the science behind it, there’s no doubt that air pollution exists.
And air pollution kills people.

Why Bug Zappers Are a Terrible Idea

In a world filled with terrible ideas, bug zappers are among the worst. Because they zap...

Buttercups, Daisies, Dandelions, Clover: A Meadow of Magic  

Superstitions about buttercups, clover, and daisies come from that ancient worldview of plants as magical, powerful beings, perhaps inhabited by gods or spirits, able to confer blessings, grant wisdom, and shield you against misfortune.

What To Do If You’ve Touched Poison Ivy

What if you’ve just waded through a cluster of poison ivy? To avoid a rash, wash off the oil as soon as you can. Cold water, lots of it. Then keep it dry.

Let’s Not Re-Open Schools; Let’s Re-think Them

Let’s focus on the main issue: keeping children sane and healthy while we wait for this terrible year to pass. Let’s use every park, every nature center, every green space, every urban community garden and vacant lot.

Dandelion Recipes: Vitamin-Rich Food From the Lawn

Dandelions are one of the most nutritious plants in your garden. A vitamin powerhouse, with calcium, aron and all sorts of good stuff. Try a dandelion recipe!