Review by Booklist Review
Yasmina is a whiz in the kitchen, whipping up healthy, delectable vegetarian dinners for her dad every night and sending him off to work at the french-fry shop with another one every morning. She knows her way around the local gardens, too, both the one on the roof of her building, overseen by a mysterious recluse, and the one down the street, where two local gardeners wage war with each other. All forces must band together, though, when Tom de Perre and his menacing agri-business take over and start manufacturing a potato product that sends the public quite literally to the dogs. A delicious and nutritious concoction of fun, thrills, and consumer consciousness, this comic from the Belgian Mannaert cooks up heartfelt characters, an exciting sci-fi mystery, and a bunny gag worthy of old Bugs himself. This feast doesn't just taste good, though; Mannaert's use of the comics form is expert, offering engagingly clever visuals and a wonderfully evocative sense of place in his detailed splash pages and realistic, inviting depiction of Yasmina's city neighborhood.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Eleven-year-old chef Yasmina, a lanky child with thick squiggles of black hair and light skin, believes food is, first and foremost, about love, which puts her immediately at odds with shady businessman and potato farmer Tom de Perre. Purchasing and razing the two local community gardens Yasmina frequents for fresh vegetables, de Perre evicts elderly pesticide user Cyril and younger guerrilla gardener Marco to grow genetically modified flavored potatoes. Yasmina, who cooks plant-based lunches and dinners daily for her working father after her mother's passing, is rightfully indignant, but when the townsfolk--including her father--start acting strange, she must investigate with Cyril, Marco, and a mysterious neighbor to save them. Belgian creator Mannaert's story remains tender throughout. His dynamic style, with thin linework accompanied by vibrant greens and lush salmon pinks, eschews traditional paneling in favor of floating, borderless glimpses into Yasmina's world. Though a lack of initial conflict may make it difficult to dive in, Yasmina's passionate advocacy for eating with care ("I should start a petition to have math class replaced by a cooking class") sustains a wholesome humor throughout. Back matter includes notes on Mannaert's inspiration and process. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8--12. (Jan.)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 4--7--Eleven-year-old budding chef and amateur urban plant forager Yasmina relies on the extra bounty of her feuding gardener friends Cyril and Marco to cook delicious vegetarian meals for herself and her debt-ridden father, Omran. When a shady businessman buys and demolishes Cyril's and Marco's gardens to start a nefarious potato enterprise, Yasmina resorts to stealing from the rooftop garden on their Belgian city apartment. Meanwhile, city residents who are addicted to a new brand of potatoes terrorize the streets. With the help of the reclusive but brilliant upstairs scientist Amaryllis, Yasmina, her father, and her friends must address the strange behavior. The narrative relies heavily on the art, resulting in pacing that ebbs and flows until the action heats up in the final third. Often, there are long stretches of pages that contain art but no dialogue, requiring readers to pay close attention to the illustrations. Mannaert immerses readers in urban and naturalistic settings, an effect aided by borderless panel shapes that grow and shrink. While creative visuals set the book apart, it lacks character background that would have added depth. Visual clues allude to Yasmina and her father being Muslim but do not provide a clear definition of their ethnicity. Bonus features include an author's note, a short comic about Belgians' love of French fries, and behind-the-scenes concept art. VERDICT Those without a solid grounding in the graphic novel format may have a hard time making it through. Still, for intrepid readers, this is a thought-provoking tale of plant hybridization gone awry that will spur discussion on food genetic modification and business ethics.--Pearl Derlaga, York County P.L., VA
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
When potato products engineered for maximum addictiveness wreak havoc on her city, it is up to aspiring chef Yasmina and her friends to find a cure. Eleven-year-old Yasmina creates delectable vegetarian meals for herself and her widowed father, Omran, who works at a frites shop in Brussels. The family is tight on money, so Yasmina relies on foraging, free produce from her friends' community farm plots, and the occasional theft from the rooftop garden of her reclusive upstairs neighbor. But after a corporate potato company buys up the farms to grow their starchy produce, the city's appetite for potato products becomes aggressively insatiable, with consumers displaying odd, animal-like behavior. Separated from her food supply, Yasmina increases her rooftop visits. When she discovers a connection between her neighbor and the genetically modified foods, it is up to Yasmina and her crew to save the day. Mannaert's graphic novel is a silly romp of a corporate takedown heist, with charmingly drawn characters and well-paced action sequences. Sequential vignettes with free-form borders instead of panels add whimsy to the story's flow. A bit oddly, given the story's themes, food insecurity is not directly addressed. Mannaert's cityscape is multiethnic, and contextual clues suggest that Yasmina and Omran are Muslim, but there are no identity markers to indicate ethnic heritage. A wacky, stand-alone foodie adventure. (author's note, concept sketches) (Graphic mystery. 8-12) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.