Fry Bread

Kevin Noble Maillard
Told in lively and powerful verse by debut author Kevin Noble Maillard, Fry Bread is an evocative depiction of a modern Native American family, vibrantly illustrated by Pura Belpre Award winner and Caldecott Honoree Juana Martinez-Neal. Fry bread is food. It is warm and delicious, piled high on a plate. Fry bread is time. It brings families together for meals and new memories. Fry bread is nation. It is shared by many, from coast to coast and beyond. Fry bread is us. It is a celebration of old and new, traditional and modern, similarity and difference.


Reviewed: 2019-10-26

Without exaggerating, I can say that this is one of the very best picture books I have ever read. Fry Bread tells a story that spans Native America and does not leave anyone out in the process. That fry bread recipes change from one family or nation to the next is emphasized. The recipe in the book is not the only one out there. Then, there’s the people in the book themselves. All colors are represented here. As I sat reading this book, I held back tears. I don’t know that I have ever seen a book show that Natives this way. I am from a tiny rancheria in California. My small nation of 500ish does not get mentioned very often, but there we were on the inside cover. The effort that went into representing as many nations as possible is not lost on me and even writing about the book now, I find myself getting emotional.
Finally, the authors note. Picture books can easily be seen as places where it is difficult to include all the information about an event or topic. Just look at any picture book about Thanksgiving, they don’t go into what happened in the years to follow. That Natives were hunted or torn from their cultures, that Native children in the US had zero protection from being taken from their families until 1978 and even then the Indian Child Welfare Act was not given truly specific rules until 2016. No, children and adults alike are continually fed the story of the happy Natives helping pilgrims (colonizers). We’re continually shown as objects of the past. Not relevant to contemporary society. Not in Fry Bread. Here, the authors note tells the stories (with citations!) that go along with each of the pages. The themes that we are still here, that fry bread was born of necessity, and that our history and present are complicated things, is made available to the reader. The young children may not be able to comprehend the authors note, but the parents, educators and librarians that share this book will.

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@rikikikitaco completed #frybread... on 2019-10-24
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