FOOD FOR THOUGHT

THE STORIES BEHIND THE THINGS WE EAT

Striking photographs dominate in this odd paean to selected fruits and vegetables. The seemingly random assortment (apples, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes, grapes, bananas, mushrooms, corn and pomegranates) is just the first aspect of this undeniably attractive volume that may perplex young readers. A smattering of facts and stories about each food accompanies formal portraits posed against scenic backgrounds and smaller vignettes of trees, plants and prepared food items. The photos are vintage Robbins: colorful, sensuous, intriguing. There’s little rhyme or reason discernible in the text, however, as it skips through time and across continents, alternately imparting knowledge and offering sly asides. For example, the author points out that “China grows almost half the apples in the world today,” refers to various Greek myths in which they are featured and speculates on whether they were actually the forbidden fruit of the Bible. Ultimately both approach and content seem best suited to an adult audience (preferably dedicated foodies) who will be sufficiently familiar with mythology, history and literature to catch and appreciate the many allusions. (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59643-343-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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Go adventuring with a better guide.

50 ADVENTURES IN THE 50 STATES

From the The 50 States series

Find something to do in every state in the U.S.A.!

This guide highlights a location of interest within each of the states, therefore excluding Washington, D.C., and the territories. Trivia about each location is scattered across crisply rendered landscapes that background each state’s double-page spread while diminutive, diverse characters populate the scenes. Befitting the title, one “adventure” is presented per state, such as shrimping in Louisiana’s bayous, snowshoeing in Connecticut, or celebrating the Fourth of July in Boston. While some are stereotypical gimmes (surfing in California), others have the virtue of novelty, at least for this audience, such as viewing the sandhill crane migration in Nebraska. Within this thematic unity, some details go astray, and readers may find themselves searching in vain for animals mentioned. The trivia is plentiful but may be misleading, vague, or incorrect. Information about the Native American peoples of the area is often included, but its brevity—especially regarding sacred locations—means readers are floundering without sufficient context. The same is true for many of the facts that relate directly to expansion and colonialism, such as the unexplained near extinction of bison. Describing the genealogical oral history of South Carolina’s Gullah community as “spin[ning] tales” is equally brusque and offensive. The book tries to do a lot, but it is more style than substance, which may leave readers bored, confused, slightly annoyed—or all three. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12.2-by-20.2-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80% of actual size.)

Go adventuring with a better guide. (tips on local adventuring, index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-5445-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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THE STORY OF EASTER

First published in 1968 and newly illustrated by Vitale, this is a history of the Christian celebration of Easter that, after briefly recounting the story of the Resurrection, links the holiday to other spring festivals, covers the ancient custom of giving the gift of an egg (a symbol of the new life of spring), and includes contemporary customs, such as the fashionable stroll down New York City's Fifth Avenue after church on that day. Also included are instructions for egg decoration and a recipe for hot cross buns. Even the recipe demonstrates the clear, informative prose of Fisher, whose expert organization leads from topic to topic. Vitale's illustrations are a marvel; each full-page picture is filled with details that reflect the times, the flora, and the culture of the era shown, colored with a range of appropriate earth tones. Every element of design makes this an inviting addition to the holiday shelf, even for those already owning the original book with Ati Forberg's illustrations. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 1997

ISBN: 0-06-027296-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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