The Super Soybean


If there is any such thing as a "super" plant, that plant is the soybean. Used for an amazing variety of things—plastics, fuel, soap, and medicine—soybeans are also a healthy food source for animals and people.

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If there is any such thing as a "super" plant, that plant is the soybean. Used for an amazing variety of things—plastics, fuel, soap, and medicine—soybeans are also a healthy food source for animals and people.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
I knew that the peanut had many uses and was widely cultivated, but I did not know that the soybean was even more ubiquitous in its uses. From the scene of a soybean field about five weeks old, to a variety of products—fuel, plastics, ink and food—Bial celebrates the cultivation of this amazing plant. Its origins probably go back to China, but today it is grown in the Midwestern United States and has become such a major crop that 75 million acres are planted annually. Soybeans are even exported to China. Excellent color photographs show the process from frozen ground to spring thaw, planting of the seeds, growth, weeding, and ripening. The structure of the plant is described and a close-up shot shows the trifoliate leaves. Soybeans grow rapidly and other than two weedings and in some cases pesticides to control insect damage, they seem to be relatively easy to cultivate. The biggest concern that farms have is weather. Once the green fields turn a golden brown and the leaves have fallen off the plants, the bean pods are ready for harvest. The weather must be clear and the moisture content just right. The farmers use huge modern machines to harvest the beans and deliver them to the grain elevators where they are eventually shipped to factories. One of the early innovators for soybean products was George Washington Carver whose name seems to be forever associated with the peanut. But he knew that soybeans were an excellent crop and he discovered a method of extracting the oil and invented a process for making paints from the oil. Other famous people studied and developed ways of using the soybean—even Henry Ford had his scientists create a plastic that could be used incars. Today's soybeans have been bred to be disease-resistant and to produce high yields. The entire process is well documented and, looking at the pictures and learning about the ways soybeans have improved our lives gave this reviewer a whole new appreciation and understanding of this crop. The closing pages contain an index and a bibliography. An excellent choice for school and public libraries and a great book to start researching a report about this amazing plant.
Kirkus Reviews
Easy to grow, and surprisingly useful, the soybean truly deserves to be called a "super" crop. Besides providing food for animals and humans, the versatile bean is used in the making of many products including plastics, crayons, printing inks and a biodiesel fuel. Author of more than 90 informational books, including many about farm life in America, Bial offers middle-grade readers a straightforward and thorough introduction to the legume, generously illustrated with photographs, many of which he took himself. The appealing design, with photos, maps and text often superimposed on other images, adds interest. Moving from the familiar (soybeans as food) to the unfamiliar (soybean cultivation from planting to harvest, alternative uses), the clearly written text includes information about soybean history and economics. Although the soybean was one of the five sacred grains of China, the United States is now the world's biggest producer. This title will be a welcome addition to school units on agriculture and nutrition but is interesting enough to read on its own. (index, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 8-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807575499
  • Publisher: Whitman, Albert & Company
  • Publication date: 1/1/2007
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 8 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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