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March 20, 2007 > "Wolf! Wolf!" by John Rocco, Hyperion hardback, $15.99 (2007)

"Wolf! Wolf!" by John Rocco, Hyperion hardback, $15.99 (2007)

It's not fair, really. Poor old wolf has a wonderful vegetable garden, but his back hurts too much to weed it. Then he hears a boy calling, "Wolf! Wolf!" Painfully he runs over to answer the call only to find a boy teasing some village elders. Poor Wolf! He's so hungry!

Taking pity on him, the boy gives the wolf a goat which he drags home, hoping at last to get a good meal. When he goes out into the garden, Wolf finds a miracle - vegetables and a new friend. The pictures here are hilarious, and the new ending to Aesop's fable is very satisfying (not scary at all). A very funny new twist to a classic tale.

Recommended for ages 4 and up. Reviewed by dh.


"The Mysterious Benedict Society" written by Trenton Lee Stewart and illustrated by Carson Ellis, Little, Brown hardback, $16.99. (2007)

A strange ad is placed in the newspaper: "Are you a gifted child looking for Special Opportunities?" Lots of children showed up to answer the ad, but only four are worthy of the Mysterious Benedict Society. Each are unique: one logical, one a walking encyclopedia, one carrying a bucket full of tools, and one very contrary! Brought in to meet the mysterious Mr. Benedict, the children are told that there is an evil plan to take over the minds of everyone in the entire world, and that they are the ones to stop it. The four children must learn to get along, work as a team, and figure out how to stop the plot, and in a hurry for time is running out!

This book was a lot of fun to read, with seemingly impossible situations solved in logical ways. The evil doer is sinister without being truly vicious. The kids have quite the time managing to stop his plot. Great for mystery fans and puzzlers. For more about the Mysterious Benedict Society, see www.mysteriousbenedictsociety.com.

Recommended for ages 10 and up Reviewed by dh.


"Archer's Quest" by Linda Sue Park, Clarion hardback, $16.00 (2006)

Twelve-year old Kevin is sitting in his bedroom, contemplating his homework, when WHOOSH! An arrow knocks his baseball hat off and plants itself in his wall! He turns around to find a strangely dressed archer pointing another arrow in his direction. After a bit of quick talking, Kevin determines that the archer is Chu-Mong, a legendary ruler in ancient Korea. But what is this hero from the past doing in Dorchester, New York in the present day? And how on earth is Kevin going to be able to help Chu-mong return to his own time?

I really liked the way Ms. Park seeded Kevin and Chu-mong's adventure with historical references without bogging it down. Kevin's efforts to find a way to send Chu-mong back isn't easy, but spirited enough to take the reader along for a fun ride.

Recommended by ages 9 and up. Reviewed by dh.


"Mindless Eating, Why We Eat More Than We Think" by Brian Wansink, Bantam Books hardback, $25.00. (2006)

Why do we eat? In a society where too much food is more of a problem than not enough, it surely isn't because we are hungry. Brian Wansink, a Stanford Ph.D. and the director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, designs experiments proving that habits instead of conscious acts get most Americans in trouble calorie-wise. For example, if you believe frozen yogurt is healthy, you eat more of it. Or if you are tricked by a bottomless soup bowl into believing you're not finished, you keep eating. The experimental designs are just fun to read; and the results seem obvious but aren't.

The mind makes over 200 food-related decisions each day, often without a pause or conscious thought: Should I have that chocolate candy or not? Should I supersize? According to Wansink, just being alert to eating behaviors can painlessly cut 100 excess calories a day off your intake. That doesn't sound like much but it translates to 1 lb. a year without your being aware of a change. With more change, cutting 200 calories a day means a 2 lb./year loss, and so on. Considering that most people gradually gain weight without realizing it, this makes sense. Obviously, if you have a large amount of weight to lose, this is way too slow. Yet, "Mindless Eating" is still useful for those who need to stay on a restrictive diet.

"Mindless Eating" advocates changing behaviors, not counting calories - there are plenty of other books that provide menus, recipes and diets. Whether you follow Weight Watchers, Atkins, or any of the many other diet plans, they all limit calories. This book helps you stay on those diets. The reader will understand how certain clues, like empty plates or boxes signal fullness, signal "stop," not the amount of calories you consume. It teaches you how to manage your environment to develop new habits to replace bad ones.

Although this book is based upon scientific research and extensively end-noted, it is a quick, enjoyable read. There are action items at the end of each chapter so that the reader can quickly apply the principles. For parents concerned about instilling good health habits, this teaches you how without nagging and fighting. It is a lot easier to build good habits, than to break bad ones.

Recommended for teens and adults. Reviewed by jp.

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