HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Bananas Don’t Grow on Trees: A Guide to Popular Misconceptions
Author: Joseph Rosenbloom
Illustrator: Joyce Behr
Publisher: Pan Books, republished 1981
ISBN-13: 978-0806931005 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0806931000 Hardcover
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Rosenbloom, Joseph. Bananas Don’t Grow on Trees: A Guide to Popular Misconceptions (published in 1978 by Sterling Publishing Co. Inc., 2 Park Ave., New York City, NY 10016). Covering a wide range of topics, such as plants, animals, science including the human body, history, the United States, food, and a few other odds and ends, this book presents excellent explanations of numerous popular misconceptions. It is an older book, so some of the information is outdated, but most of it is not. When I was growing up, we had a similar children’s book in our home which had a section beginning, “Peanuts are not nuts, they are beans,” a point which Bananas Don’t Grow on Trees also makes. As a youngster, I was a trivia buff and adored books like this. My mother called me a walking encyclopedia of useless information. Oh, by the way, if bananas don’t grow on trees, where do they grow?
My only word of caution is that the book does contain some mild environmentalism and promotes the general theory of evolution with references like horse shoe crabs having evolved 150 million years ago. Another example is that in debunking the “misconception” that “Prehistoric man and dinosaurs once lived together” the book says, “Despite cartoon strips and television shows which sometimes depict man and dinosaurs co-existing, humans and dinosaurs could not have lived together. Most estimates place the origin of man at 2-4 million years ago. The last of the dinosaurs disappeared more than 60 million years ago, at the end of the Mesozoic era. Hence, by the time man arrived on earth, the dinosaurs had been extinct for millions of years.” That is, of course, the conventional wisdom, but it conveniently ignores a growing amount of inconvenient evidence which casts a lot of doubt on the conventional wisdom. Another “misconception” debunked is that “According to the theory of evolution, man developed from the ape.” At least the author admits that it is a theory.
The book says, “The theory of evolution developed by Charles Darwin (1809-1882) does not state that man developed from the apes. What the theory does say is that both man and the apes had a common ancestor. From this common ancestor, apes and man took separate paths. One did not come from the other.” Noted evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson replied to this kind of thinking in 1964. “On this subject, by the way, there has been way too much pussyfooting. Apologists emphasize that man cannot be the descendant of any living ape—a statement that is obvious to the verge of imbecility—and go on to state or imply that man is not really descended from an ape or monkey at all, but from an earlier common ancestor. In fact, that earlier ancestor would certainly be called an ape or monkey in popular speech by anyone who saw it. Since the terms ape and monkey are defined by popular usage, man’s ancestors were apes or monkeys (or successively both). It is pusillanimous if not dishonest for an informed investigator to say otherwise.” And even in 2008 John S. Wilkins, a biologist with a PhD from the University of Melbourne, wrote, “So when someone asks if we evolved from monkeys, tell them ‘Yes, if by “monkey” you mean a primate; no, if you mean Primate minus Hominoid.’ Of course at some very early and distant time our ancestors were monkeys, but not recently.”