So now there's a backlog of AWESOME titles that we read together as a family, which I've got to somehow translate into blog posts -- since, after all, you cannot peek into my oh-so-cluttered brain and discern which were the best of all the many books we checked out this summer. Hope you've got your library list at the ready, dear reader, 'cause there's some good stuff coming your way!
First up is a new title by one of Sprout's favorite author/illustrators. We've reviewed a couple of Cathryn Falwell's books here on the blog -- Christmas for 10 is one, Butterflies for Kiri another. We were waiting for her newest title, Rainbow Stew, very anxiously, and I'm pleased to say it's just as excellent as the other books by her that we've read and loved. Most fun of all, it takes place on a rainy summer day, something we as Northwesterners definitely have our fair share of, so Sprout could totally relate. :)
The story follows three kiddos who are visiting their Grandpa, and who are more than a little disappointed to discover the aforementioned showery weather when they make their plans for the day. But Grandpa has another suggestion: suit up in rain gear and venture out to his garden, where they pick all the ingredients for a tummy-warming bowl of rainbow stew. The kids have a great time harvesting -- and playing -- in the rain, getting all kinds of muddy and loving every second. (Side note: this is *exactly* what Sprout would do, given the same opportunity. Falwell completely gets little ones.) Then it's inside to dry off (newspapers on the floor = Grandpa's one smart cookie), change clothes, and prep the veggies. While the stew cooks, there's time for a little reading and resting, and then everyone gets to enjoy the fruits of their labor -- just in time for a rainbow to peek through!
Where to start with all the things I love about this cheerful, vibrant book? Falwell's illustrations are of course terrific, featuring just the right balance of details to make each scene come to life. Of course I love that there's teamwork going on here. Everyone helps out in harvesting, prep work and eating the delicious lunch, which naturally means the whole process is that much more fun. (If you want to make your own rainbow stew, the recipe's helpfully included right at the end.) I also really dig that we have Grandpa in the main role here, performing many tasks usually left up to moms or grandmas. It's so nice to see a male figure given domestic duties, from making breakfast to helping the kids tidy up after playing in the mud. In the day and age of so much pink- and blue-gender specificity, having Grandpa be the main caregiver was a very nice touch.
Make it a point to seek out Rainbow Stew on your next trip to the library or bookstore. And if your chosen branch doesn't have it, this would be a great purchase suggestion to make to the manager or children's librarian. A colorful book about food and fun, written with a catchy rhyme? It's every bit as yummy as Grandpa's Rainbow Stew!
Rainbow Stew by Cathryn Falwell, published by Lee & Low Books
Sample: "We jump around like grasshoppers and buzz about like bees. / We creep along like ladybugs, and all get muddy knees."