“What makes a good steak?” asks Mark Schatzker in his new book, Steak: One Man’s Search for the World’s Tastiest Piece of Beef (Viking, 2010). Schatzker is a man who loves steak, unambiguously and with abandon, and he makes the perfect guide for an adventure filled with cowboys, cattle and rib eyes. His devotion to his favorite food and his interest in how steak comes to be steak—good and bad— kicks off an always fascinating, often hilarious, around-the-world search for the best steak ever. More than just an excuse for the author to eat a variety of steaks of varying degrees of fabulousness, Steak is an exhaustive, highly entertaining study of the traditions and science of steak. In America, steak has a cultural reputation as weighty as Tiffany’s: both are symbols of prosperity and opulence. But like so many once-revered emblems of the good life, the quality of steak in the United States has steadily diminished, even if its reputation hasn’t.
Ninny Nu’s Organic Farm by Tanya Sousa with illustrations by Amber Alexander (Radiant Hen Publishing) is a classic tale of farm animals competing to produce the best crop ever for the Mayor. Ninny Nu, a house cat, runs an organic farm, treats her animals well, and refuses to use a tractor. Farmer Jack, a jack rabbit, is an intensive farmer with a loud tractor. He confines his animals in the barn and overproduces on his land.
In this story Ninny Nu teaches the important lesson that high quality food comes from a healthy, happy farm. After the Mayor’s competition, she teaches other farmers about her way of raising livestock and vegetables compassionately. With short paragraphs on each page, this book is a good introductory look at farming for older children. The illustrations by Amber Alexander are expressive and full of farming landscapes and animals.