Curtis, Andrea and Yvonne Duivenvoorden. What's for Lunch? What Schoolchildren Eat Around the World.
15 October 2012, Red Deer Press
This slim, beautifully photographed volume is a great overview of what children in different parts of the world eat. If Around the World in 80 Diets is too big a book to digest, this is perfect.For each country, there is a brief overview of life in general, how school days are run, and then a picture of a typical lunch with explanation of the items included. Some of the countries covered are Canada, the US, and England, but also France, Brazil, Peru, Japan, China, France. Of especial note are the pages covering the difficult circumstances in Kenya and Afghanistan, with an emphasis on the food crisis, and how maximum nutrition is provided for the least possible cost. There is also additional information on topics like the local food and healthy lunch initiatives in places like Italy. Notes at the end and a glossary help make this a very useful book to use in the classroom, and well as interesting to browse.
Strengths: The information is laid out in an easy to follow way, and the photographs are beautiful. I'm not quite sure how I will use this book, but I can see it being helpful in social studies classrooms, and possibly used as a lead in to service projects. Many students in the US are not aware of how people in other countries live, and this is a great introduction. And you know what's listed as a US lunch? Pizza and...corn! Whose idea was that? It has never made sense to me.
Weaknesses: It would have been helpful if all the food on the plates had been labeled. While most was, there will be items that students will not be able to identify. Prices would have been nice, but would quickly date the book.
Bjorkman, Laura. Miss Fortune Cookie
13 November 2012, Henry Holt and Company
Erin and her friends Linny and Mei are seniors at the exclusive Lowell school in San Francisco, and are all awaiting their college acceptance letters. Erin was born in China, but is of Irish extraction, and lives in a tiny apartment with her mother, her father having died when she was small. Erin wishes she were Chinese, and is a bit jealous of her friends, who are. Mei's mother runs a restaurant and is determined that Mei will get in to Harvard; Mei is more interested in going to Stanford so she can be near the love of her life, Darren. Linny is a little unsure, and more concerned with protesting things now. Erin would like to go to Harvard as well, but has plans to room with Linny and stay in California. When the acceptance letters finally come, there's a lot of drama. Erin writes an advice column style blog for her school newspaper, and only Linny knows she is the author, and a lot of school drama unfolds in the letters she recieves. Mei decides that she and Darren need to get married so that her mother will let her bow out of Harvard, Linny gets angry at Erin, and Erin finds a boyfriend of her own. How will all of their futures unfold?
Strengths: Set in San Francisco's China Town, this is a great peak at how different life can be just in other areas of the United States! Like Paula Yoo's Good Enough, it explains a lot about the Chinese desire for the best education possible and does a great job of describing the drama and pressure that oftens surrounds the decision to attend one college rather than another. Greatly enjoyed this.
Weaknesses: While this is appropriate for middle school (there is some discussion of a girl wanting to lose her virginity, and some kissing, but nothing too much), the emphasis on college decisions is probably not going to resonate with most middle school students. Too bad, because this would be fun to display with Greenwald's Sweet Treats and Secret Crushes.