Saturday, January 23, 2021

Saturday Morning Cartoons-- Yasmina and the Potato Panic

Mannaert, Wauter. Chef Yasmina and the Potato Panic
January 26th 2021 by First Second
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Yasmina and her father live in an unnamed European city. He's a cook at a french fry fast food restaurant, and she goes reluctantly to school while dreaming up her next cooking project. Since money is tight, she gets vegetables from two friends at the allotment, older men who constantly bicker back and forth, debating the virtues of growing things organically or with chemicals. She occasionally goes to the roof of her apartment building and steals vegetables from the woman who gardens there. When the allotment is cleared by a shady corporation who plants fast growing potatoes, Yasmina figures that something is up. The product is selling right and left, supplanting other products, and making the consumers act very strangely. Without the vegetables from her friends, her father goes hungry and starts to eat the products of his own restaurant, which have an ill effect on him. In one of her forays to the rooftop garden, Yasmina spies a logo in a news clipping that looks like the one the potato farm has, and finds out a secret about her neighbor. Will she and her friends be able to find an antidote, stop the evil corporate farm, and restore good food to Yasmina's world?
Strengths: The illustration style reminded me a bit of a picture book I had as a child, a hand me down from neighbors who had been stationed in Germany. (Katy and her Baby Buggy? The title escapes me.) The style is quite different from that of many middle grade graphic novels, with more delicate lines and more details in the background. Mannaert talks about his choice of color palettes at the back of the book, and I think he made a good call NOT using red and blue! Yasmina's interest in cooking and in locally grown produce (she also picks wild plants from the surrounding neighborhood, consulting a book) are admirable, especially since she is also helping her family economically. Her friendship with the two gentlemen on the allotment is nice to see. The evil corporation sends this book in a science fiction direction that was quite fun. 
Weaknesses: This was a bit on the goofy side, and my students aren't terribly interested in gardening, based on the lack of success of titles involving those topics. Since this is a graphic novel, we don't get much of Yasmina's back story about why she cooks, why her family is struggling, etc. 
What I really think: I thought this was more clever and enjoyable than many of the graphic novels I've read lately, but I'm not sure my students will feel the same way. I may see how they do with the Brina series first, before investing in this book. I would definitely purchase this for a public library. 

Ahrens, Niki. Hack Your Kitchen: Discover a World of Food Fun with Science Buddies 
February 2nd 2021 by Lerner Publications (Tm)
E ARC provided by Edelweiss

This was not what I was expecting-- I didn't see the subtitle and thought it was cooking tricks and tips. 

This is more of a science experiment book, with lemon volcanoes, edible paper and a recipe for baked Alaska. I like how the "science takeaway" is listed after each activity.

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