Books: Garden of Unearthly Delights

PARALLEL BOTANY by Leo Lionni

Knopf; 181 pages, illustrated; $12.95;paperback $5.95

The chimera, the griffin, the manticore and the sphinx are familiar fauna that flourish outside traditional biology. Now it appears that unfamiliar flora grow outside of conventional botany. Or so says the protean Leo Lionni, 67, teacher, painter, sculptor, former art director of FORTUNE and author of a dozen delightful children's books. To illustrate, Lionni has literalized Marianne Moore's "imaginary gardens with real toads in them"—and then removed the toads. What remains is a series of never-were "parallel plants," a vegetable kingdom with...

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