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Original Essays | July 24, 2014

Jessica Valenti: IMG Full Frontal Feminism Revisited

It is arguably the worst and best time to be a feminist. In the years since I first wrote Full Frontal Feminism, we've seen a huge cultural shift in... Continue »
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J Green has commented on (2) products.

Falling in by Frances Dowell
Falling in

J Green, January 4, 2011

Isabelle Bean is one of those girls who seems to be in her own little world. She's in sixth grade and has no real friends as the other girls find her a bit odd. So, she's not entirely surprised when she opens a closet and falls through into another world, kind of like Alice, but without all the annoying characters. In the other world she finds all the children on the run from a witch. But instead of joining them on their trek to the safe camps, she sets out to find the witch. After all, what could be more interesting than meeting a witch, even if she does eat children?

I read this charming book to my (almost) 8 year old daughter, and we both loved it. The writing style is perhaps the best part of it - very confidential and story-telling-like, with frequent interruptions and asides to explain and develop the story line - it was really a lot of fun to read aloud. But the characters are likeable and endearing as well: the quirky misfit Isabelle, the solid and down-to-earth Hen, and the kindly old herb woman Grete. The language feels a bit advanced (more on a level for my 11 year old daughter, who also enjoyed it) and I occasionally had to stop and explain what was happening (I'd say grades 4-6 appropriate, but I almost think I appreciated the "story-telling" style more than my girls did). The story gets a bit tense with realistic dangers that kept us from wanting to put it down. But don't be misled by the "fantasy" label being applied to this book. When I think of "fantasy" novels I think of elves and fairies and magical creatures. This was nothing like that, and beyond the "Alice-in-Wonderland" entrance of "falling in" to another world (with a faintly medieval setting), there wasn't much "fantasy" to it. Very cute story and highly recommended.
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Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg
Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food

J Green, January 3, 2011

Mankind has often looked upon the ocean as a bountiful place capable of providing a near-endless supply of food. We even sort of romanticize those who brave the elements, from Moby Dick and yesterday's whalers to today's "Deadliest Catch." And for reasons of abundance or convenience or perhaps just taste, we've settled upon four main fish which serve as our principal "seafood": salmon, bass, cod, and tuna. But, as fishing has become increasingly commercial and efficient, we're in danger of destroying the wild populations of these fish and the ecosystems they depend upon and that are dependent upon them.

Paul Greenburg has written an excellent and surprisingly readable book about our relationship with the sea and its bounty. He does this not from a solely environmentalist perspective, but also as a fisherman and one who enjoys eating fish. He discusses the advantages of wild vs. farmed fish - the destructive practices of each which imperil future stocks. With farming, in particular, the four are very poor candidates for captive rearing (although the lessons learned so far have been essential and can be applied elsewhere). He also explores potential replacements against a checklist of qualities that should ensure greater success (the same qualities that have been proven in terrestrial farming).

I was *very* surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I've never been a huge eater of seafood, although I've recently begun ordering it more often when we eat out. But I most appreciated the scientific aspect of the book that seeks to find the best possible balance, moving beyond the simple red or green seafood cards to maximizing a sustainable harvest while protecting resources. He acknowledges there are no easy answers, but leans a little too heavily on regulation as if illegal poaching wouldn't increase with such measures. But overall, an important read for all those who are concerned about the future of the oceans and the last wild food.
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