This is the only fruit book in a series called "How Did That Get Here?" The Biography of Bananas offers a brisk overview that makes the most of full-color artwork (mostly photos) and an appealing design. Eagen covers many bases, from the first edible bananas (found in the Malay Archipelago) to the present-day wide variety. But this is no Pollyanna's guide underwritten by Chiquita. Eagen discusses the difficult work banana harvesting involves, as well as the environmental impact of the big companies that have dominated the banana business for the last century. It also does not take long--the book's second paragraph--for Eagen to mention a major threat to bananas: "Banana plants are endangered because they cannot fight off diseases on their own. Farmers and scientists worry that a pandemic of disease will wipe out the global banana crop." In the course of the book Eagen also raises the specter of poisonous pesticides, tiny worms that attack the roots of banana plants, and tarantulas that hide in banana leaves. The last spread offers a hopeful look to the future with possible scientific, humanitarian, and consumer-driven solutions to the problems surrounding banana production. There is a glossary and index; other books in this series focus on chocolate, cotton, rubber, and sugar. 2006, Crabtree Publishing Company, and Ages 8 to 12.
Abby McGanney Nolan