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

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Comparisons to Judy Blume's Deenie (1973) might be inevitable, but Rachel stands admirably on her own.


Both the literal and figurative senses of the word "spine" form the backbone of Gerber's debut.

The same day white seventh-grader Rachel Brooks starts in an important soccer game, she learns that her scoliosis has worsened, and she now needs to wear a brace for 23 hours a day. The author, who wore a brace herself, vividly conveys its constricting bulk. But her spine isn't the only curve Rachel has to brace herself for. Her mother, whose own scoliosis required a spinal fusion, is rigid and unsympathetic as the brace affects Rachel's soccer technique and jeopardizes her place on the team. Her classmates gossip, and though her friends and crush are generally supportive, the author nails their realistic discomfort at being bullied by association. Ultimately, her friends help her to adjust, and Rachel learns to assert herself. As Rachel grows a spine, her mother learns to bend, sympathetically revealing the fears she never addressed during her own treatment. Their disparate experiences give scoliosis—and their relationship—nuance as well as tension. The author doesn't diminish Rachel's difficulties, but at heart her story is uplifting; a brace can be a "built-in drum" to dance to. An author's note provides a short list of scoliosis resources.

Comparisons to Judy Blume's Deenie (1973) might be inevitable, but Rachel stands admirably on her own. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-90214-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Overall, a worthy contribution not only to the market, but also within the broader canon of resources on Western yoga and...



Life comes with challenges, but with mindfulness, young people can learn to ride life’s ups and downs with clarity and calm.

In an encouraging and conversational tone, Gates straightforwardly presents mindfulness to a young audience without oversimplifying the content. The first part of the book explains the science of mindfulness and presents breathing techniques, yoga, and meditation as practice methods. Interspersed are appealing graphics: quirky illustrations of people of diverse shapes, gender representations, and skin tones; memelike quotes that offer encouragement; and short statements from young people using the practices in their own lives. The book ends with several mindfulness “challenges”—practice sequences that build daily. The practices instructed are a blend of traditional mindfulness techniques (body scan, mindful walking, etc.) and new strategies particularly relevant for young people (listening mindfully to one’s favorite music). Gates never strays toward dogma; readers are constantly encouraged to try the practices and notice their experiences. She makes it clear throughout that mindfulness is not about changing one’s life but about being more present for life as it is, one breath at a time. One unfortunate drawback is that some of the examples of potential stressors do reveal an assumption of privilege (schools offering modern dance, going on a ski trip with friends).

Overall, a worthy contribution not only to the market, but also within the broader canon of resources on Western yoga and mindfulness. (Nonfiction. 11-16)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-18662-2

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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