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The Stories Behind the Things We Eat

by Ken Robbins & photographed by Ken Robbins

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: March 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59643-343-4
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Striking photographs dominate in this odd paean to selected fruits and vegetables. The seemingly random assortment (apples, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes, grapes, bananas, mushrooms, corn and pomegranates) is just the first aspect of this undeniably attractive volume that may perplex young readers. A smattering of facts and stories about each food accompanies formal portraits posed against scenic backgrounds and smaller vignettes of trees, plants and prepared food items. The photos are vintage Robbins: colorful, sensuous, intriguing. There’s little rhyme or reason discernible in the text, however, as it skips through time and across continents, alternately imparting knowledge and offering sly asides. For example, the author points out that “China grows almost half the apples in the world today,” refers to various Greek myths in which they are featured and speculates on whether they were actually the forbidden fruit of the Bible. Ultimately both approach and content seem best suited to an adult audience (preferably dedicated foodies) who will be sufficiently familiar with mythology, history and literature to catch and appreciate the many allusions. (Nonfiction. 7-10)