Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Geobiologist Hope Jahren has spent her life studying trees, flowers, seeds and soil. Lab Girl is a beautifully written tribute to plant life—but it is also a celebration of the lifelong curiosity, humility and passion that drive every scientist. Warm, luminous and compulsively readable, this memoir vividly demonstrates the mountains that we can move when love, friendship and work come together.

Brochure outside 2017-18 (pdf)

Brochure inside 2017-18 (pdf)

Books for Younger Readers

For grades 5 and up (ages 10+)

Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery and Temple Grandin

Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History… and Our Future! by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl


For preschool to grade 4 (ages 4-9)

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbably Life of Paul Erdös by Deborah Heiligman and LeUyen Pham

Plants Can’t Sit Still by Rebecca Hirsch and Mia Posada

Ada Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark and April Chu

Book Club Discussion Materials and Recipes

Lab Girl – Questions for Discussion (pdf)
About Hope Jahren and Lab Girl (pdf)
Awards and Critical Acclaim for Lab Girl (pdf)
An Interview with Hope Jahren (pdf)

Book club meetings aren’t just about the book. Sharing food and drinks adds to the fun! We’ve found some great recipes to enhance your discussion of Lab Girl. Try some and impress your guests! Special thanks to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel food editor and committee member Nancy Stohs for finding all of the food references in the book, locating appropriate recipes, cooking them, photographing them and tasting them for us.

Book Club Recipes for Lab Girl

What to serve at a book club discussion of Lab Girl? Food doesn’t really factor into Hope Jahren’s story.

Plant foods are a natural, considering the focus of her research. But that doesn’t mean you have to restrict yourself to a big bowl of salad greens…

Let’s dig a bit deeper (pun intended). Think roots, leaves and seeds.


If you’re serving a full meal, you could roast up a pan of root vegetables.

For an easy snack, simply open a bag of root veggie chips.

Or try:
Beet Quick Bread or Chocolate Beet Quick Bread


Kale Chips (Updated). Of course.

And there’s nothing wrong with a big bowl of salad! Toss some assorted greens with roasted beets, some goat cheese, oranges or other favorite ingredients and top it with sunflower seeds for all three plant parts in one dish.


How about Sweet Roasted Chickpeas or Spicy Roasted Chickpeas? (Legumes are, in fact, seeds.) Or set out a bowl of roasted pumpkin seeds.


What else but Dirt Cake? Make your favorite recipe or try ours, with homemade Vanilla Pudding and real whipped cream.

Or make a jellyroll cake and decorate it with chocolate frosting to resemble a log, à la buche de Noel (meringue mushrooms optional). We call our recipe the Log of Life cake.

Or bake up a batch of Mixed Seed Clusters and sprinkle it on servings of ice cream.


You can never go wrong with wine at a book club gathering, no matter what the book. Or try one of these science-y or plant-themed cocktails:

The Magnetic Storm

Madame Curie Cocktail

Pineapple Basil Cocktail


Adult category:

  1. Elise Riepenhoff – High Dive
  2. Sharon Porfilio – A Time I Felt Grown Up

High school:

  1. Madison Sveum – Mac & Cheese
  2. (tie) Antonia Arney – My Anxiety Journey   and    Jordan Lawless – Coming of Age – Which Age?

Middle school:

  1. Molly Chartier – Demons
  2. Annabelle Wilson – Saying Goodbye


  1. Cate Carney – The Big Switch
  2. Winter Hamilton – Finally, My Own Space

Honorable mention (Elementary category):

Lindsay Beaman
Anna Guckenberg
Elena Cooper
June Straka
Alex Gleesing



Adult category:

  1. Sarah Hunt-Frank
  2. Charmaine Rabishaw

High School:

  1. Lilly Frank
  2. Lilly Frank

Middle School:

  1. Kate Pluta

Elementary School:

  1. Sophia Sherry
  2. Sofia Konkol