Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Karla Oceanak
Illustrator:  Kendra Spanjer 
FIction  Series
For ages 9 to 12
Bailiwick Press, 2012   ISBN: 978-1934649244

There are not many things about school that Aldo likes. Mondays in particular are dreadful, and the only thing that makes them bearable is that Monday is the day when they serve pizza in the school cafeteria. Pizza Mondays are a tradition at Dana Elementary and even Aldo’s friend Jack likes them. Jack isn’t really interested in food much and pizza is one of the few things he will consider eating.

  One Monday in November Jack and Aldo are happily eating their pizza when Mr. Fodder, who is “a lunch lady who is a guy,” tells Aldo that he better enjoy his pizza because it might be his last. Apparently there is talk that the school menu is going to be changed so that the food is healthier.

   Sure enough the students at Dana Elementary soon find out that their school has been chosen to test a new cafeteria menu. The program is called F.E.A.S.T, which stands for Food Energy And Sensational Tastes. Aldo is not happy about the news and is determined that nothing is going to come between him and his Monday pizzas.

   Before F.E.A.S.T is implemented Aldo learns, from Mr. Fodder, that chocolate milk is no longer going to be on the menu. He and his best friends, Bee and Jack, decide to create some posters protesting F.E.A.S.T. After they have their first F.E.A.S.T meal they decide that perhaps putting up a few posters isn’t going to be enough. The meal, baked fish covered with flax seeds, is truly horrible. When they discuss the situation at Bee’s house Mr. Mott tells that how he participated in sit-ins when he was young. He also tells them about the chants that he and other peaceful protesters use to shout out during demonstrations.

   On the first F.E.A.S.T program Monday the kids are given chicken-broccoli fricassee, which is so horrible that Aldo and his friends decide to go to the principal’s office, taking a petition signed by most of the student body with them. It is time to show the powers that be that they do not appreciate losing Pizza Monday, and they don’t appreciate been offered food that is nasty.

   In this sixth Aldo journal (complete with Aldo’s art work) young readers see how Aldo, who really loves food, is forced to take a stand when a new food policy is implemented at his school. Aldo has other adventures as well that young readers will find interesting and amusing.

   What makes this series so wonderful is that we see things from Aldo’s point of view. We see his flaws, his strengths, and we can appreciate the mistakes he makes. It is not easy being a slightly chubby fifth grader who loves junk food, loathes exercise, and whose friends are sometimes strange.