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

READ REVIEW

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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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Readers new to Gooseberry Park will hope they don’t have to wait another 20 years for the next book

GOOSEBERRY PARK AND THE MASTER PLAN

Twenty years after the publication of Gooseberry Park (1995), Rylant returns with a sequel.

In the previous outing, the residents of Gooseberry Park coped with an ice storm; now, a drought threatens Stumpy the squirrel and her family, along with all the other animals. This spurs house pets chocolate Lab Kona and hermit crab Gwendolyn to devise the titular master plan to help their friends through the ecological disaster. Herman the crow—so smart that the rest of the crows have given up the annual chess match because they got sick of losing to him—works out a flowchart that involves a cat, a possum, a raccoon, 200 owls, and 20 packs of chewing gum. Murray the bat’s motivational-speaker brother puts his well-developed jaw muscles to work on the gum; Kona’s chocolate-Lab sincerity wins the unprecedented cooperation of 200 owls. Rylant writes with her customary restrained humor, creating with apparently no effort a full cast of three-dimensional furred and feathered characters. The story comes with lessons ranging from the overuse of fossil fuels to the peculiar magic of friendship, all applied with a gentle hand and a spirit of generous trust in the abilities of her readers to understand them. Her frequent collaborator Howard supplies lumpily humorous grayscale illustrations that augment the character development and give readers’ eyes places to rest.

Readers new to Gooseberry Park will hope they don’t have to wait another 20 years for the next book . (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0449-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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