Cabinet of Curiosities

What kid doesn’t love picking up shells on the beach, or finding a bird’s egg or snake’s rattle, or—treasure of treasures—a fossil? Then taking it home to put on a shelf or in a shoebox? That same impulse has, since the Age of Exploration, motivated collectors to turn their passion into amazing “cabinets of curiosities”— collections of beautiful and unusual objects that in many cases became the seeds of the world’s great natural history museums.

Cabinet of Curiosities is exactly the book for every young explorer who loves finding stuff in nature and bringing it home. Lavish, oversize, illustrated, and chock-full, it introduces kids to the wonders of natural history and the joys of being an amateur scientist and collector. Nature writer Gordon Grice, who started his first cabinet of curiosities at age six when he found a skunk’s skull, explains how scientists classify all living things through the Linnaeus system; how to tell real gold from fool’s gold; how to preserve butterflies, crab shells, feathers, a robin’s egg, spider specimens, honeycombs—and a skunk’s skull (and other skulls and bones); how to identify seashells; the difference between antlers and horns; what a thunder egg is and where to find it; the metamorphosis of cicadas; what a porcupine quill is made of; what to do with a shark’s tooth; how to read animal tracks. And then, what to do with your specimens, including how to build a cabinet of curiosities out of common household objects, like a desk organizer or a box for fishing tackle.

Reviewed in New York Times

I take some kids collecting--from the publisher's blog

Mentioned in Baltimore Sun

Reviewed in Boys' Life

Wisconsin Public Radio's Central Time interviews me about Cabinet of Curiosities

Science Friday interviews me

Read an excerpt about bones (courtesy of Science Friday)

Reviewed on Boing Boing


  1. Gordon, I came upon your Cabinet of Curiosities book today, quite randomly, on Amazon. Even though it seems meant for a younger set, it is in my Amazon cart--looks great! PS: I have a book coming out in May. My working title for the longest time was Cabinet of Curiosities: Talismans from New England Rambles! It's an essay collection and has since been renamed The Book of Noticing: Collections and Connections on The Trail.

  2. Sounds like my kind of book! Here's a liink for others who may be interested:


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