A kid-friendly companion to Michael Pollan’s Food Rules (2011).

A MOOSE BOOSH

A FEW CHOICE WORDS ABOUT FOOD

Continuing the food themes from his picture-book illustration debut in Jacqueline Briggs Martin’s Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table (2013), Larkin here makes his authorial debut.

In 40-plus energetic poems, Larkin celebrates the good and decries the bad in the food world. Though individual poems might seem like amuse-bouches by themselves, they add up to a full meal, and the volume as a whole serves up a lively conversation about food. The collection takes a few jabs at the food industry. One poem laments the “small food desert in Harlem,” and another describes Ashley, who will only eat foods she can spell (and therefore can’t eat bread that contains azodicarbonamide). Grampa complains that there are “[t]oo many people touching my food” (referring to packers and shippers, processors and pickers, inspectors, store guys and baggers). It also encourages planting gardens, eating meals together and enjoying good food such as noodles: “Twirl them, whirl them, / slop them, slip them, / twist them, curl them, / whip them, flip them.” And if the poems’ rhythms don’t always roll off the tongue as easily as those noodles slide off a fork, the overall effect of the poetry and the mixed-media, graffiti-style art (inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat) is exuberant: “Where there is food, there will be laughter (and crumbs).”

A kid-friendly companion to Michael Pollan’s Food Rules (2011). (Poetry. 10-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9836615-5-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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An intimate novel that beautifully confronts grief and loss.

RED, WHITE, AND WHOLE

It’s 1983, and 13-year-old Indian American Reha feels caught between two worlds.

Monday through Friday, she goes to a school where she stands out for not being White but where she has a weekday best friend, Rachel, and does English projects with potential crush Pete. On the weekends, she’s with her other best friend, Sunita (Sunny for short), at gatherings hosted by her Indian community. Reha feels frustrated that her parents refuse to acknowledge her Americanness and insist on raising her with Indian values and habits. Then, on the night of the middle school dance, her mother is admitted to the hospital, and Reha’s world is split in two again: this time, between hospital and home. Suddenly she must learn not just how to be both Indian and American, but also how to live with her mother’s leukemia diagnosis. The sections dealing with Reha’s immigrant identity rely on oft-told themes about the overprotectiveness of immigrant parents and lack the nuance found in later pages. Reha’s story of her evolving relationships with her parents, however, feels layered and real, and the scenes in which Reha must grapple with the possible loss of a parent are beautifully and sensitively rendered. The sophistication of the text makes it a valuable and thought-provoking read even for those older than the protagonist.

An intimate novel that beautifully confronts grief and loss. (Verse novel. 11-15)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304742-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A moving, age-appropriate, and convincing portrayal of family resilience after trauma.

THE ROAD TO AFTER

Fleeing domestic abuse, a girl and her family begin a hard but hopeful journey to healing.

Eleven-year-old Lacey is shocked that Mama has called the police to take them, along with Lacey’s 4-year-old sister, Jenna, to safety—and unhappy at leaving the family dog behind. The girls are fearful and confused; Daddy’s rules prohibit leaving the house without him. Though he is put in jail, feeling safe will take time. Moving to transitional housing brings challenges. Lacey, home-schooled, has never had a friend. Daddy’s control over the family was absolute even when he wasn’t home to enforce it. Now Mama must learn to make her own decisions. Initially, Lacey misses Daddy’s rules, terrifying but known; she’s anxious at having new rules to follow, though breaking her father’s rules doesn’t bring retribution. With community help and support, the three timidly expand into their new life. Mama revives her artistic ambitions and, gaining strength, nurtures her daughters’ artistic gifts. Reading about Rachel Carson, Lacey finds life lessons in the natural world: observing how a sunflower grows from a seed and how a winding creek finds its own way. Lowell, who in an author’s note describes herself as a domestic-abuse survivor, focuses here on healing; the abuse is portrayed retrospectively—fitting, given her audience. Like her gentle illustrations, the verse format suits her story, a mosaic of small epiphanies that cumulatively chart a path from darkness into light. Characters’ race and ethnicities aren’t described explicitly.

A moving, age-appropriate, and convincing portrayal of family resilience after trauma. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-10961-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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