nonfiction nuggets…of homegrown bounty at the farmer’s market

To Market, To Market, written and illustrated by Nikki McClure

It’s Market Day; time to grab a basket and head down to see what beautiful goods await us at the farmer’s market.

First on the list are apples.  A stand run by Michael has bushels of them –crunchy, juicy, delicious.  He picked them just yesterday from his large, lovingly-tended orchard.  Michael has hundreds of apple trees which he has cultivated by grafting, pruning, pinching.  Before we meander on to the next stand, we take a minute to find out a bit more of how this all works.   We learn about gathering the best scions, and what a scion is, and how Michael splices that to a rootstock, and what a rootstock is, and why he does this, and what happens to this new tree.  We find out why apple trees need to be pruned and why some teeny apples get pinched off before they have a chance to grow.  In fact, we hear the story of how that apple comes to us, all told in a clear, concise, interesting manner.

Moving from one stall to another, we purchase dark green kale, plump pink salmon, golden honey, sweet purple-jammy blueberry turnovers, lovely cloth napkins, and tangy cheese.  At each stop, we meet the farmers and artisans and learn some of the intriguing steps that bring these items to us.  From smoking the salmon to dying the cloth, building up the soil to milking goats — so many discoveries!

Nikki McClure’s narrations of these processes are child-friendly, yet she does not talk down to us.  Thank you, Nikki.  She shares buckets of captivating details, but not so much that it’s information overload, even for a 5-year-old.  The tone she strikes is of deep respect for each of these talented, hard-working people, a wonder over all we enjoy from the earth’s bounty.  It’s a pleasant, inspiring, immensely-satisfying read.

Meanwhile, her illustrations.  Oh my.  I adore McClure’s work.   Her method is papercutting, and she describes it a bit on the endpaper of the book.  If you want to know more about her and her artwork, there’s a spectacular interview with gobs of pictures on one of my favorite children’s lit blogs here.  Anyway, these

We loved the beauty of the produce in Pike’s Place Market, Seattle.

are gorgeous pieces of art.  I see such strength and beauty and fullness in these people and the earth  in her style, perspectives, lines and  added colors.

Great title for preschoolers and up (you can skip some of the lengthier explanations with the youngest ones if need be) and a perfect time of year for this harvest-themed book as we prepare for Thanksgiving.  There is so much to be thankful for.

Here’s the Amazon link:  To Market, to Market