Friday, January 23, 2015

BEFORE WE EAT - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

 It has been several weeks since I posted. Partly because of the holiday and family vacation to places without internet (ahhhh), partly because I wasn't reading books that zinged enough to make me want to recommend them. But drum roll--a book I read this week is fist-pump worthy..


TITLE: Before We Eat
AUTHOR: Pat Brisson
ILLUSTRATOR: Mary Azarian
Publisher: Tilbury House, 2014
Intended Age: 2-5 (publisher says 4-8)
Themes: Gratitude, Food, Farms

Opening lines: As we sit around this table
                        let's give thanks as we are able
                       to all the folks we'll never meet
                       who helped provide this food we eat.

Synopsis: A lyrical look at where our food comes from, for the very young. 

What I like about this book: As the jacket flap says--"Milk doesn't just appear in your refrigerator." It is easy to believe that grocery stores are magical places where food 'appears.' But farming is hard work, involving a lot of people. I like that this book shows a variety of ages, races and genders participating in the process. It is a simple, romanticized, view of the industry, focusing on small farms where fathers (or grandfathers) hand eggs to their young son who carries them in a basket while chicks stroll around their feet. And this may not be an entirely accurate portrait of how the majority of our food gets to the table but it is age appropriate and a wonderful start to the discussion of the origin of the food we eat. Kirkus succinctly described the book as a "secular grace." Mary Azarian's distinctive vibrant wood-cut ink-printed illustrations keep a gentle focus on the people doing the work. My favorite illustration captures the rolling seas around the fisherman. On her website Mary says that this will "probably be my last picture book." Say it ain't so!

Resources: Read the entire Kirkus review for Before We Eat here.
 A Youtube post that I hoped would show you more inside the book was a static image. Skip that.

The Carle museum includes this book in a list of ten wonderful books about food and farms.
I feel lucky that I grew up in a family that grew food in a garden. If you have room outside or in a window box, winter is the time to plan what you want to plant! I have had good luck with lettuce and herbs indoors. If you don't have the space for that, come fall you can go Pick Your Own at a farm in your area.

The treatment of farm animals engenders strong opinions, so be careful what links you let your kids click on. Kenyon College provides an analytic, non-judgmental, view of the milk cow industry.
Many zoos have "petting zoo" areas that feature farm animals like sheep and goats. Be ready to discuss how they get to your plate if you eat these creatures and go for a visit!
If you google "farm themed activities for kids" you are going to get hundreds of results! I'm not a Pinterest person but I was in 4-H (sheep club, cooking and sewing) and I want to make the paper plate and painted cotton sheep shown here.

Tilbury House lists four items that may be of interest to readers. I didn't get a hold of any of these before I posted but they look like some might be a bit intense for some of the youngest readers--for example one is a free teacher's guide for a book titled Everybody's Somebody's Lunch dealing with the predator/prey concept and the death of a pet, and another is a picture book that deals with the issue of hunting.

This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. Along with tons of writing wisdom, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF 

Thanks again for stopping by!
    

19 comments:

  1. I'm really on the fence about how much to tell my eldest since I well remember my grandad always showing us beautiful pictures of animals in Africa and I got such a shock when I heard about famine. I think I was old enough to handle the truth. I was upset Africa was so different from the stories. I love those illustrations, I'll check this out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Growing up is hard! The truth often stings. This book is innocent and sweet, for the youngest but some of the linked material is not which is why I noted it. Thanks for stopping by, Catherine!

      Delete
  2. This is a very important book for schools and classrooms to use as a unit. As I read your review, it really struck that today's children don't have the appreciation we grew up with for food production. I'm so impressed with what you shared that I'm going to buy a copy for myself, so I can share it with grandchildren. Side bar -- I remember my daughter thinking that money just came from ATM machines and that it was my earned money I put in a bank for safekeeping. That's when I started her very own bank account. I'm sure there are many other book series that could be a series of books on such themes. You always find such great books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you liked it, Pat! It's so easy to pick up what we need at the store but food is actually hard to produce.

      Delete
  3. I hope it's not her last!!! And as you say, a selection for the younger ones, but I feel kids in school should start to learn more about how they can have opinions about where there food comes from too. If we were more conscious on the whole, it might help slow us down, which is something I'd appreciate!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We could all use the slow-down and think approach, Julie. :)

      Delete
  4. It's amazing how little kids often know about food sources. I also grew up growing food and eating lots of fresh stuff and there were farms all around our village. I love good books like this to educate about our food supply.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I try to have a little garden, but there are often as many failures as successes. I can't imagine it being my livelihood.

      Delete
  5. What GORGEOUS illustrations! I can't wait to see this one. I think it is so important for kids to understand where food comes from and what it takes to produce it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Carrie. When I read Mary Azarian's comment about this probably being her last picture book, my heart sank. She brings the subject to life.

      Delete
  6. An interesting book Wendy. We need this in the schools. True kids know little about where or how food is grown *sigh* Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope it finds a wide audience, Diane.

      Delete
  7. What a perfect pre-farmer's market read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahh-are there fresh things growing in CA? I'm jealous.

      Delete
  8. Glad you found one worthy. Now to add it my growing list this week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Farming is a great subject for your "growing" list. Get it!? (I amuse myself)

      Delete
  9. a great book - and perfect for those looking for "farm to table" kinds of stories. (or sea to table...)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. From a kid's POV, the day-to-day aspects of life are often fascinating. Thanks for stopping by, Sue.

      Delete
  10. Neat concept - and you've definitely got me intrigued. Thanks for sharing. May have to pick this one up!

    ReplyDelete