Food is not just elemental; it is remarkable, and this effort does it justice.




Food fundamentals, branching into provocative digressions.

The cover will throw readers a little, with its psychedelic colors but rather picture-book artwork, for the narrative is crafted for middle graders. It is a thoughtful tour of food, starting with the mind-blowing results of a compilation of surveys: broccoli grows on trees, lettuce has more protein than peanuts, pasta is made from meat. So the authors set a solid foundation, taking nothing for granted. They start with the evolution of agriculture and husbandry, with timelines and sidebar summations. Then come farm equipment and the step-by-step progress in farming technology. Aided by a good selection of photographs, gender and nationality become a part of the picture, as well as diversity of foodstuffs. They proceed from this base to address some of the problems, pitfalls, and ethical dilemmas that have befallen agriculture: factory farms; depletion of stocks; the difference between hybrids and genetically modified organisms, plus a balanced look at the pros and cons of GMOs; the role of branding and marketing; and environmental issues, including fishing dead zones and soil corruption. The authors bring a knack for concision to the work, particularly with regard to problematical everyday foods (trans fats, sugar, processed foods), though the busy, bright graphics sometimes make it hard to focus.

Food is not just elemental; it is remarkable, and this effort does it justice. (glossary, further reading, selected sources, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55451-884-5

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A rich source of terrors both real and manufactured, equally effective in broad daylight or beneath the bedcovers.



A compendium of paranormal doings, natural horrors, and eerie wonders worldwide and (in several senses) beyond.

Maladroit title aside (“…in Bed” would make more sense, cautionwise), this collection of hauntings, cryptids, natural and historical mysteries, and general titillation (“Vampire bats might be coming for you!”) offers a broad array of reasons to stay wide awake. Arranged in no discernible order the 60-plus entries include ghostly sightings in the White House and various castles, body-burrowing guinea worms, the Nazca lines of Peru, Mothman and Nessie, the hastily abandoned city of Pripyat (which, thanks to the Chernobyl disaster, may be habitable again…in 24,000 years), monarch-butterfly migrations, and diverse rains of fish, frogs, fireballs, and unidentified slime. Each is presented in a busy whirl of narrative blocks, photos, graphics, side comments, and arbitrary “Fright-O-Meter” ratings (Paris’ “Creepy Catacombs” earn just a “4” out of 10 and black holes a “3,” but the aforementioned aerial amphibians a full “10”). The headers tend toward the lurid: “Jelly From Space,” “Zombie Ants,” “Mongolian Death Worm.” Claybourne sprinkles multiple-choice pop quizzes throughout for changes of pace.

A rich source of terrors both real and manufactured, equally effective in broad daylight or beneath the bedcovers. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2841-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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In a large, handsome format, Tarnowska offers six tales plus an abbreviated version of the frame story, retold in formal but contemporary language and sandwiched between a note on the Nights’ place in her childhood in Lebanon and a page of glossary and source notes. Rather than preserve the traditional embedded structure and cliffhanger cutoffs, she keeps each story discrete and tones down the sex and violence. This structure begs the question of why Shahriyar lets Shahrazade [sic] live if she tells each evening’s tale complete, but it serves to simplify the reading for those who want just one tale at a time. Only the opener, “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,” is likely to be familiar to young readers; in others a prince learns to control a flying “Ebony Horse” by “twiddling” its ears, contending djinn argue whether “Prince Kamar el Zaman [or] Princess Boudour” is the more beautiful (the prince wins) and in a Cinderella tale a “Diamond Anklet” subs for the glass slipper. Hénaff’s stylized scenes of domed cityscapes and turbaned figures add properly whimsical visual notes to this short but animated gathering. (Folktales. 10-12)


Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84686-122-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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