Readers will want to go out and get some dirt under their fingernails.

LET'S EAT

SUSTAINABLE FOOD FOR A HUNGRY PLANET

From the Orca Footprints series

Stories abound at the local supermarket, but you will have to talk to the food.

Ask any banana, avocado, or mandarin orange. Veness did, and their stories are engrossing. Veness grew up on a Saskatchewan, Canada, farm, so she is no stranger to the farming life. Between chores, she has nurtured a clear, expositional style of writing that is long on facts but lively enough to keep readers’ attention. Take, for instance, tidbits like the skinny on “Naturally raised” beef: “The cow could still have lived in a feedlot”—also known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations—and it “probably ate corn, grain and animal by-products and received frequent doses of antibiotics and growth hormones.” That’s natural? A chicken raised in a CAFO “may spend its entire life in a cage smaller than a microwave.” Veness carefully explains such practices as permaculture, no-till zones, rice-duck farming, community and urban gardens, and biomimicry: “creating technologies to mimic processes in nature.” Consider “the RoboBee, a miniature robot [scientists] hope can pollinate crops if we lose the bees” to colony collapse disorder or insecticide use. Bright photos and a lively layout enhance the package. This account of the secret lives of groceries comes with a special grace note: “Did you know that digging your hands into a garden bed has been scientifically proven to increase happiness?”

Readers will want to go out and get some dirt under their fingernails. (resources, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0939-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph.

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WISHTREE

Generations of human and animal families grow and change, seen from the point of view of the red oak Wishing Tree that shelters them all.

Most trees are introverts at heart. So says Red, who is over 200 years old and should know. Not to mention that they have complicated relationships with humans. But this tree also has perspective on its animal friends and people who live within its purview—not just witnessing, but ultimately telling the tales of young people coming to this country alone or with family. An Irish woman named Maeve is the first, and a young 10-year-old Muslim girl named Samar is the most recent. Red becomes the repository for generations of wishes; this includes both observing Samar’s longing wish and sporting the hurtful word that another young person carves into their bark as a protest to Samar’s family’s presence. (Red is monoecious, they explain, with both male and female flowers.) Newbery medalist Applegate succeeds at interweaving an immigrant story with an animated natural world and having it all make sense. As Red observes, animals compete for resources just as humans do, and nature is not always pretty or fair or kind. This swiftly moving yet contemplative read is great for early middle grade, reluctant or tentative readers, or precocious younger students.

A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-04322-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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A fresh premise, good pacing, surprising twists and engaging characters all combine to make this a series worth following.

MASTERMINDS

From the Masterminds series , Vol. 1

With no unemployment, no homelessness and no crime, Serenity, New Mexico, is the perfect town. Or is it?

When 13-year-old Eli Frieden attempts to bike past the town limits for the first time, he is struck with paralyzing nausea and pain that makes him wonder if Serenity is less of a paradise and more of a prison. When Malik Bruder, his classmate, discovers that the major employer, a traffic-cone factory, is just a front for something more sinister, the two boys, along with friends Hector Amani and Tori Pritel, decide to investigate. They find that Serenity, which holds honesty and integrity above all else, is built on a lie. The truth is so shocking that it puts into question everything they know, even their identities. The mystery is unraveled through several alternating first-person narratives. The distinctive voices of a cynic, a true believer, a hopeful optimist, a terrified tag-along and others create depth, while break-ins, theft, vandalism and an explosive car chase keep the pages turning. A cliffhanger ending points to at least one sequel.

A fresh premise, good pacing, surprising twists and engaging characters all combine to make this a series worth following. (Adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-229996-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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