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 might look or taste different, but it is still 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.Fry Bread is a story told in lively and powerful verse by Seminole Nation member Kevin Noble Maillard, with vibrant art from Pura Belpre Award winner Juana Martinez-Neal.
Nice art, but the story section didn't really do anything for me. The eight-page Author's Note at the end though was very fascinating, especially the negative feelings some indigenous people have against fry bread. Bonus star for that.
I have been looking forward to Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story since I first learned it was coming out, and am grateful to have been given the opportunity to read it a little ahead of its release date, later this month (October 2019). Unlike the other reviewers so far, this wasn't a five-star title for me, although I did find it excellent overall. I loved the ideas of this book, I loved the artwork, and I loved the detailed seven-page afterword, with its history of fry bread, and its information about some of the culturally significant objects used in the illustrations. I also loved the endpapers, which give an alphabet listing of all (I assume?) Native nations and peoples in the United States. All that said, the text itself, although serviceable, didn't particularly impress me, and while this didn't ruin the book for me (witness the four-star rating), it did prevent me from feeling emotionally involved in it, in that way I had hoped to be. Reactions vary, and I appear to be in the minority here, so I'd still strongly recommend this one, both to anyone looking for picture-books about food and family in general, or about Native American cultures specifically.
This book, told in evocative language with just a few lines per page, stirs up pleasant feelings about how cooking as a family (or with friends) makes everyone happier. But it's not all sunshine and roses, as one page spread reminds about the hardships indigenous people have gone through. Still the overall vibe is positive in the main text, which is accompanied by gentle illustrations that also evoke warmth while displaying diverse people and including small details from several tribal traditions.
The book concludes with a lengthy and informative author's note, in which he breaks down each page spread with additional information about indigenous history (including current events/status) as well his own family traditions. In this author's note, Maillard also talks about the small visual clues that can easily be overlooked on the first time a reader goes through the book (e.g., how the names of people involved in the production of this book are seen "carved" into the counter on the final page of the main text).
This was an excellent book, and I definitely recommend it to others. Specifically, I recommend reading it more than once (including the author's note) as there are many details to absorb.