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Children's LiteratureFrom vine planting and picking to drying and devouring, Ryan's raisin story combines the use of rhyme and reason. Each two-page spread features playful poems posing questions, plus plain-text factual answers. For example-Q: "Do raisins grow on Earth, or other planets, far away?/Do aliens collect them and space-shuttle them our way?" A: "Raisins...are grown...in countries like Turkey, Iran, Greece, Australia, and the United States." Simple but bold artwork depicts scenes of the backbreaking manual labor of harvesting along with fanciful raisin portraits-like raisins drying on beach blankets in the sun. The last of the 32 pages present additional raisin facts. One page cites raisin virtues, like their nutrition value. Eight pages of raisin history transport you from the Phoenicians to Hannibal's army to California's Thompson (who transformed the raisin industry forever when he developed seedless grapes in the late 1800s). Ants on a Log, Rats on a Raft, and Super Balls are found on the final recipe page. As is usual with Charlesbridge books, this one has quality built into the thick pages and focused graphics. If your younger readers need a book to illustrate natural foods or where fruits come from, this is a good choice. 2003, Charlesbridge, Ages 6 to 9.
— Chris Gill