In Atkinson's book, First Studies of Plant Life, Atkinson's own photos and line drawings by his long time collaborator Frank R. Rathbun provide copious illustrations. Unlike other texts of the day, Atkinson wrote this book in a way designed to engage young readers. He included inquiries and experiments for adolescent readers to do: on seedling growth; on the effects of turgor pressure and transpiration; on how to observe starch in plants; and what kind of gas is produced by leaves in sunlight. In one of his chapters on the Life Stories of Plants, Atkinson begins, "Mushrooms, too, have a story to tell." Reading this passage gave me a wonderfully warm feeling, as the same thought is behind of one of my own teaching efforts, a century later: the Cornell Mushroom Blog.
"In this book the plant stands before the child as a living being with needs like his own."
–excerpt from Anna Botsford Comstock's Introduction.