Ambitious in scope and mission but uneven in execution; nevertheless, valuable in its illustration of alternative models of...

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POCKET CHANGE

PITCHING IN FOR A BETTER WORLD

From the Orca Footprints series

A serious recalibration of our consumerist lifestyle is in order according to Mulder in this valiant attempt to historically situate an economic practice run amok.

What Mulder would really like to experience is a fundamental change in how we go about obtaining the things we need, which—as one glaring example of a malfunctioning system—many of us around the globe don’t have. Her coverage of the mechanics of consumerism, such as currency, advertising, and planned obsolescence, are gripping enough to stick in readers’ minds, but historical explanations—for example, the causes of the Great Depression—are way too shallow to help readers understand the basic insecurities of the system. The book is punctuated by boxes of facts and vignettes of activities Mulder has engaged in that look to a more dignified future. These include the “Repair Cafe,” where local handy folk gather at some central location to repair broken goods, or the “Kitchen Library,” which lends out things like blenders or a set of sharp knives. Mulder also addresses issues of vast importance: child labor laws, the microloan phenomenon, and the return of barter. Two particularly wonderful instances stand out: the first is “Buy Nothing Day,” observed annually in November, and the other is an emphasis on the value of community.

Ambitious in scope and mission but uneven in execution; nevertheless, valuable in its illustration of alternative models of commerce. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0966-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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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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