Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

James D. Nations’ Tropical Rainforests: Endangered Environment gives young readers detailed and thorough information about the world’s rainforests. The book’s first chapter defines tropical rainforests, the oldest and most complex of ecosystems existing in Latin America, southeast Asia, and Africa. This overview introduces subsequent chapters which provide in-depth looks at specific aspects of rainforests. For example, the second chapter focuses on the rainforest’s three layers—the canopy, the understory, and forest floor—and emphasizes the role that each of these layers performs in making the rainforest such a diverse ecosystem, rife with so many species of plants and animals.

The third chapter provides a sophisticated discussion of the products derived from rainforests. In addition to the foodstuffs commonly associated with this ecosystem, such as bananas, coffee, and pineapple, Nations discusses lesser-known rainforest crops such as corn, guavas, and cloves. He examines the possibility of as-yet undiscovered food sources as well as ones that have been newly found, such as the feijoa, the rambutan, and the naranjilla. In addition to being a kind of huge grocery store, the rainforest is a well-stocked drug store. Nations discusses plant-derived medicines that are used in the treatment of cancer, sickle-cell anemia, Parkinson’s disease, hypertension, and heart disease, and he stresses, especially in chapter 4, that the properties of...

(The entire section is 534 words.)