A delectable delight daring readers to embrace the 80,000 species of Earth’s edible plants.

TRY IT!

HOW FRIEDA CAPLAN CHANGED THE WAY WE EAT

Baby corn? Seedless watermelons? Purple potatoes? Who’d eat that?

Frieda Caplan was the plucky produce promoter who mainstreamed much of the world’s delicacies and innovative hybrids into the American kitchen. Starting her own eponymous company—Frieda’s—in 1962, she ensured that her reputation was made in what was then an all-male wholesale produce business. Almost nothing was too far-out for Frieda; after all, spaghetti squash was just one more recipe card in search of a convert. However, even Frieda was stumped with the Chinese gooseberry—but sales took off after she renamed it a kiwi. Anyone who bites into a crunchy jicama or a fiery habanero purchased from a supermarket can thank the adventurous taste buds of this pioneering greengrocer. Rockliff’s snappy sentences and rollicking alliteration make this a fun read-aloud: “Farmers dug for tips on what to grow. Cooks peppered her with questions”; “mounds of mongosteen, heaps of jicama, and quantities of quince.” Potter’s signature flat palette gives way to bright purples, brilliant reds, and crisp greens. The retro illustrations follow Frieda from her entry into a marketplace filled with “boxes of bananas. Piles of potatoes. Truckloads of tomatoes” to a consumer wonderland filled with boxes of donut peaches and cherimoyas. Frieda, a Jewish Angeleno, presents White; people of color appear as both fellow wholesalers and customers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A delectable delight daring readers to embrace the 80,000 species of Earth’s edible plants. (author's note; bibliography) (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6007-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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Blandly laudatory.

I AM WALT DISNEY

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Science at its best: informative and gross.

DO NOT LICK THIS BOOK

Why not? Because “IT’S FULL OF GERMS.”

Of course, Ben-Barak rightly notes, so is everything else—from your socks to the top of Mount Everest. Just to demonstrate, he invites readers to undertake an exploratory adventure (only partly imaginary): First touch a certain seemingly blank spot on the page to pick up a microbe named Min, then in turn touch teeth, shirt, and navel to pick up Rae, Dennis, and Jake. In the process, readers watch crews of other microbes digging cavities (“Hey kid, brush your teeth less”), spreading “lovely filth,” and chowing down on huge rafts of dead skin. For the illustrations, Frost places dialogue balloons and small googly-eyed cartoon blobs of diverse shape and color onto Rundgren’s photographs, taken using a scanning electron microscope, of the fantastically rugged surfaces of seemingly smooth paper, a tooth, textile fibers, and the jumbled crevasses in a belly button. The tour concludes with more formal introductions and profiles for Min and the others: E. coli, Streptococcus, Aspergillus niger, and Corynebacteria. “Where will you take Min tomorrow?” the author asks teasingly. Maybe the nearest bar of soap.

Science at its best: informative and gross. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17536-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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