The League of Picky Eaters

Clarion. Oct. 2021. 304p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780358379867.
Gr 4-6–In a society where consuming varieties of food in healthy quantities is a highly prized skill, Minerva’s picky eating practices set her apart, and not in a good way. After performing poorly in her “eating placement test” at St. Julia Child Elementary and Middle School, she is assigned to a class for Remedial Eaters, filled with unpopular kids like Alice Who Only Eats White Food and Ralph, who disrupts classes by making vomit-like noises. The group of outcasts, though, turn out to be members of the League of Picky Eaters, with cool strategies for avoiding foods and fooling teachers that help kids like Minerva make it through school. She learns to appreciate her own uniqueness and that of her new friends, ultimately standing up for the virtues of pickiness in ways that instigate real change. The premise of elevating eating habits to a crucial social measurement is established early and maintained with cleverness and consistency. For instance, the class must take part in food immersion therapy (“Be one with the Brussels Sprouts”), and similes and other comparisons are often food-related. Some plot elements, which include the mystery of how the League was founded and Minerva’s realization that she might actually be a “supertaster,” are not especially compelling, but the food-based interactions between Minerva and her new friends versus a variety of antagonistic classmates and teachers are often entertaining and amusing.
VERDICT A mostly successful blend of satirical humor within a solid story of friendship.

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