Not every volume will change a reader’s life, but this one just might. The dilemma is this: Human beings are omnivores; we can eat just about anything, but how do we know what’s best to eat? Adopting the role of food detective, the author “peers behind the curtain” of the modern food industry and finds that the industrial approach to the food chain imperils our health and planet. The four sections of the volume describe differing types of meals: industrial; industrial organic; local sustainable; and hunted, gathered and found. Clear organization and lively writing rooted in fascinating examples make this accessible and interesting. The source notes and bibliography are thorough. Though some readers may find more about certain topics than they care to know—corn, for example—motivated kids will learn much about where their food comes from and what to do about it, and they may want to seek out the follow-up volume for adults, In Defense of Food (2008). (index, not seen) (Nonfiction. 11 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3415-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


In this riveting futuristic novel, Spaz, a teenage boy with epilepsy, makes a dangerous journey in the company of an old man and a young boy. The old man, Ryter, one of the few people remaining who can read and write, has dedicated his life to recording stories. Ryter feels a kinship with Spaz, who unlike his contemporaries has a strong memory; because of his epilepsy, Spaz cannot use the mind probes that deliver entertainment straight to the brain and rot it in the process. Nearly everyone around him uses probes to escape their life of ruin and poverty, the result of an earthquake that devastated the world decades earlier. Only the “proovs,” genetically improved people, have grass, trees, and blue skies in their aptly named Eden, inaccessible to the “normals” in the Urb. When Spaz sets out to reach his dying younger sister, he and his companions must cross three treacherous zones ruled by powerful bosses. Moving from one peril to the next, they survive only with help from a proov woman. Enriched by Ryter’s allusions to nearly lost literature and full of intriguing, invented slang, the skillful writing paints two pictures of what the world could look like in the future—the burned-out Urb and the pristine Eden—then shows the limits and strengths of each. Philbrick, author of Freak the Mighty (1993) has again created a compelling set of characters that engage the reader with their courage and kindness in a painful world that offers hope, if no happy endings. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-08758-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A predictable, fast-paced sports tale with some unexpected heart.


Harrison has led a hard-knock life up until he’s taken in by loving foster parents “Coach” and Jennifer.

After he inadvertently causes the man’s death, Harrison is taken from a brutal foster home run by a farmer who uses foster kids as unpaid labor, a situation blithely ignored by the county. His new foster parents are different. Coach is in charge of the middle school football team, and all 13-year-old Harrison has ever wanted to do is to play football, the perfect outlet for his seething undercurrent of anger at life. Oversized for his age, he’s brilliant at the game but also over-the-top aggressive, until a hit makes his knee start aching—and then life deals him another devastating blow. The pain isn’t an injury but bone cancer. Many of the characters—loving friends Justin and Becky, bully Leo, a mean-spirited math teacher, cancer victim Marty and the major, an amputee veteran who comes to rehabilitate Harrison after life-changing surgery—are straight out of the playbook for maudlin middle-grade fiction. Nevertheless, this effort edges above trite because of well-depicted football scenes and the sheer force of Harrison himself. His altogether believable anger diminishes his likability but breathes life into an otherwise stock role.

A predictable, fast-paced sports tale with some unexpected heart. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-208956-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet