Wild Berries

WildBerries

Image Credit: Simply Read Books, Julie Flett

 

Guess what? It’s still Native American Heritage Month! Yippee!  If you didn’t see my first post celebrating this month, please check out my review for Hiawatha and the Peacemaker!

Wild Berries is a sweet little book. Julie Flett is Cree-Metis and lives in Vancouver, BC. Wild Berries is written in English with words translated into the n-dialect (Swampy Cree) of Cree. This particular dialect of Cree is from the Cumberland House area of Saskatchewan. As you enjoy the story, you can also pick up a few Cree words. Flett includes more information about the various dialects of Cree and a pronunciation guide at the back of the book.

In this book, Little Clarence and his grandmother set out for the day, exploring nature and picking all types of berries. Clarence starts out on her back but grows into a boy who is curious about his surroundings. He especially loves big, sour ininimina (blueberries). There are many animals in the woodlands and when his bucket is full of sweet berries, he is sure to leave a few as a gift for the animals…and they are thankful. The readers get a gift as well, Flett includes a recipe for Wild Blueberry Jam at the end of the story.

Flett’s style reminds me of cut paper though it looks to be watercolor and digital illustration. She uses basic shapes to make eyes, arms, animals and trees. The bright red orange sun follows the grandma and her grandson as they enjoy the day together. Maybe you’ll want to go berry picking after reading this book, I know I sure want to!  Come on spring.  🙂

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Diversity, Native American Heritage Month, Cree, Language, Colors, Food Culture, Family, Animals, We Need Diverse Books
Book Info: Wild Berries by Julie Flett, 2013 Simply Read Books, ISBN: 9781897476895

Salsa

Image Credit: Groundwood Books (House of Anansi Press), Jorge Argueta/Duncan Tonatiuh

Image Credit: Groundwood Books (House of Anansi Press), Jorge Argueta/Duncan Tonatiuh

I couldn’t stay away for long…I’m reviewing another book illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh. Check out my review for his book Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras. This book is written by Jorge Argueta and the topic is something many people will agree is very delicious, SALSA!

Salsa is bilingual (Spanish and English) and takes the reader on a journey through all aspects of salsa. It’s a “Cooking Poem” with rhythm and vivid imagery. Argueta begins the poem with a volcano whose hardened lava becomes the rock that makes molcajetes and tejolote which Nahua, Aztec and Mayan people used to grind, grind, grind delicious things. Cultural tradition continues to this day and the family in the story use these ancient tools to make delicious salsa! Lots of similies and metaphors fill the pages and bring the words and illustrations to life. Like musical instruments, they use their ingredients to make a “salsa orchestra.”  While enjoying the poem, we also learn how to cook salsa!!

As always, Tonatiuh’s signature illustrations draw from his indigenous Mexican heritage: I always enjoy the ears and lips of his people. He hand draws the images and digitally collages in interesting textures for color and design. I love how each illustration is framed top and bottom with a motif that reflects the stage of the recipe process; look at the wise chili peppers with faces like grandmother and grandfather! This beautiful book is a delight and your family or classroom will enjoy learning about delicious Salsa. 🙂

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Cultural Diversity, Food Culture, Poem, History, Mexican Food, Family, Teamwork, Read-Aloud
Book Info: Salsa by Jorge Argueta/Illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh, 2015 Groundwood Books (House of Anansi Press), ISBN: 9781554984428

Dim Sum for Everyone!

Image Credit: Alfred A. Knopf (Random House), Grace Lin

Image Credit: Alfred A. Knopf (Random House), Grace Lin

Dim Sum for Everyone is delightful. I previously reviewed the book Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park…can you guess that I love Asian food? 🙂 Grace Lin writes a beautifully simple story about a family enjoying dim sum. It is based on her family’s experiences going to dim sum restaurants while growing up. If you don’t know what dim sum is, don’t worry, this book explains how it works; “Little dishes on carts” and “Little dishes on tables.” Lin also weaves in Chinese words. We learn that Ma-ma (mother) likes sweet pork buns and Ba-ba (father) likes the shrimp dishes. In this way, children are introduced to new words and are learning without realizing it. At the end of the book, she includes more information about dim sum and yum cha (tea drinking) culture.

I recommend the hardcover version of this book because it showcases the illustrations best but the board book is also good for little hands. Bold, contrasting colors make the illustrations stand out. My favorite page shows the dim sum cart ladies lined up in a row against the bright red carpet of the restaurant. Most pages are illustrated as if the reader is sitting at the table with the family and therefore, the book has a very inviting feeling. Are you ready for dim sum? I know I am. Let’s go eat!

P.S. Be sure to check out the endpapers. They celebrate the various ingredients that make up Chinese cuisine and popular dim sum dishes.

Recommended for: Toddlers and up
Great for: Cultural Diversity, Food Culture, Discussion, Colors, Chinese Language
Book Info: Dim Sum for Everyone! by Grace Lin, 2001 Alfred A. Knopf (Random House), ISBN: 9780375810824

Bee-bim Bop!

Image Credit: Sandpiper: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Linda Sue Park

Image Credit: Sandpiper: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Linda Sue Park/Ho Baek Lee

Linda Sue Park’s sweet, lyrical Bee-bim Bop! follows a family making a traditional Korean dish and is a great story time book. It’s also an excellent cultural book for younger readers (especially toddlers).  Bibimbap is one of the most well known Korean dishes in the United States and this book brings the cooking process to life.

Bibimbap

Two delicious types of bibimbap (비빔밥)

Bee-bim Bop! is close to my heart because it reminds me of my life in Korea; especially when I lived with a host family. The sound of the rice cooker boiling in the kitchen, watching my host mother chop vegetables, and finally sitting down to eat a meal together was one of the best things about my host family life.  Koreans love to spend time together by eating, drinking and talking.

Ho Baek Lee’s bright watercolor illustrations translate the rhythm of the story well. Little ones will enjoy seeing the mischievous dog who just wants some delicious food to eat. At the end of the book, there is even a recipe for families to try to make their own special bibimbap. Park not only creates a delightful story but she also successfully teaches about Korean culture in the simplest way; through food, family and rhythm!

Recommended for: Toddlers and young children
Great for: Story time, Rhythm, Cultural Diversity, Food Culture
Book Info: Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park/Illustrated by Ho Baek Lee, 2005 Sandpaper (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), ISBN: 9780547076713

People

Image Credit: Doubleday Books for Young Readers, Peter Spier

Image Credit: Doubleday Books for Young Readers, Peter Spier

People takes a snapshot of the world. This book has a lot of emotional meaning for me because it was one of my favorites as a child. I still have my original copy from 1980. Look what I wrote inside the front cover:

Image for People

I’ve always loved meticulous illustration and Peter Spier doesn’t miss any details. His bold and colorful illustrations of peoples, towns, foods and traditional games are amazing. People is essentially about cultural diversity. His simple sentences prompt reflection and discussion about our similarities and differences. Children learn about tolerance, humanity and how varied our cultures are. As I read through this book again, I thought “Well goodness, he taught me about cultural relativism!” I’m pretty certain that this book is one of the reasons why I studied cultural anthropology in college. It sparked an early interest in learning about all types of people.

Though there are many great things about this book, there are some problems. Some parents and teachers might not like that Adam and Eve are the first people in the book. Spier does a fair amount of cultural stereotyping with his illustrations and the book is rather dated in many ways. So why am I recommending this book? I’m recommending it because I believe that it’s still an excellent book that people of all ages can learn from. For his mistakes, he has many more successes and a book like this one is still a good resource for a curious child. Parents and teachers can use these stereotypes (ex. Native American houses in USA are teepees/The Japanese family always wears Kimono) as learning tools. By encouraging questions and prompting discussion about these issues, children can take away more valuable lessons. A teacher or parent can also challenge their children to “update” this book by having them choose a culture featured and research how they live today.

**I reviewed the 1980 version but there is a more updated version now available. Information below

Recommended for: 1st Grade and Up
Great for: Cultural Diversity, Cultural Relativism, Discussion, Anthropology
Book Info: People by Peter Spier, 1988, Doubleday Books for Young Readers, ISBN: 9780385244695