An inviting plethora of little-known facts about the origins, history, biology, travels, and cultivation of bananas, pineapples, grapes, berries, and melons—the unlikely but worthy stars of this entry in the Plants We Eat series. The question, “Don’t bananas grow on trees?” is answered in the opening chapter with a full explanation of banana growth, life cycle, harvesting, and production, as well as a look at bananas throughout time, on their way to America, as business or for enjoyment, and for their role in promoting good health. Each fruit is examined thoroughly; a discussion of grapes includes a history of wine and winemaking, while a look at cranberries takes readers to a bog and reveals the legend behind the name. Each chapter has clear, colorful photographs and illustrations, recipes, fun facts, nutritional information, and little-known tales. Science meets history—Napoleon ate bananas, Gilgamesh relished melons, and Roman soldiers drank vinegar—in a text especially useful in the curriculum that includes foods across time and cultures. (diagrams, glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 1999

ISBN: 0-8225-2836-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Lerner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1999

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This vibrant, thoughtful book from Katz (Over the Moon, 1997) continues her tribute to her adopted daughter, Lena, born in Guatemala. Lena is “seven. I am the color of cinnamon. Mom says she could eat me up”; she learns during a painting lesson that to get the color brown, she will have to “mix red, yellow, black, and white paints.” They go for a walk to observe the many shades of brown: they see Sonia, who is the color of creamy peanut butter; Isabella, who is chocolate brown; Lucy, both peachy and tan; Jo-Jin, the color of honey; Kyle, “like leaves in fall”; Mr. Pellegrino, the color of pizza crust, golden brown. Lena realizes that every shade is beautiful, then mixes her paints accordingly for portraits of her friends—“The colors of us!” Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child’s open-hearted sensibility and a mother’s love. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5864-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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Florian’s seventh collection of verse is also his most uneven; though the flair for clever rhyme that consistently lights up his other books, beginning with Monster Motel (1993), occasionally shows itself—“Hello, my name is Dracula/My clothing is all blackula./I drive a Cadillacula./I am a maniacula”—too many of the entries are routine limericks, putdowns, character portraits, rhymed lists that fall flat on the ear, or quick quips: “It’s hard to be anonymous/When you’re a hippopotamus.” Florian’s language and simple, thick-lined cartoons illustrations are equally ingenuous, and he sticks to tried-and-true subjects, from dinosaurs to school lunch, but the well of inspiration seems dry; revisit his hilarious Bing Bang Boing (1994) instead. (index) (Poetry. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202084-5

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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