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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Life and Times of Corn, written and illustrated by Charles Micucci. Houghton, T Allen, 2009. $19.95 ages 8 and up

"There are more than a thousand kinds of corn, which can be grouped into four major categories: sweet, dent, heirloom, and popcorn."

This is not the first book in The Life and Times of series, and I do hope it will not be the last. I have also read about the life and times of an ant, a honeybee and the peanut. They are worth your attention.

Charles Micucci knows how to appeal to young researchers, and he does so from cover to cover in this new book about corn. Visual literacy is front and centre from the time you set eyes on this book. The ear of corn that is displayed on the front cover is surrounded by a number of images that attract the eye and get the brain considering the stories they tell. Corn flakes in a bowl, a young girl with a gardening basket, a cow staring in wonder at the scale's findings concerning her weight after a diet of corn, a scarecrow and a corn husk doll are but some of the drawings meant to grab our attention.

The table of contents tells us what is in store for us. The information is well organized, leading us from tales of maize at the time of Christopher Columbus to some of the statistics that make corn such an important part of American society today. Interestingly enough, corn is grown in every state and 'if corn were a state, it would be the fifth-largest'...pretty amazing!

Between the covers, the pages are covered with tidbits of information and accompanying illustrations to show interested readers the bounty that the growth of a corn crop has meant throughout time. Did you know that 'each year people eat more than 2 million tons of corn, and farm animals crunch and munch more than 160 million tons'? I'll bet you did not.

A clear description of the plant itself, the many types of corn grown, the ways people have popped corn through the ages and the development of corn from planting to harvesting are only some of the things that Charles Micucci shares with us. You will have to read it yourself to know as much about corn as I now know. I have only scraped the surface.

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