In just about a month, the farmers’ markets in our area will open for the season. Hooray! 🙂
Can’t wait to wrap my lips around a juicy ripe strawberry, fix myself a crisp garden salad with baby lettuces, cucumber, radishes, green peppers, carrots, and cherry tomatoes, and dribble some local golden honey on a warm biscuit. I can just about smell the sweet, rejuvenating scent of ripe peaches and the aroma of freshly baked breads, cookies and muffins, and I can picture the colorful bouquets of Spring blooms.
Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market by Michelle Schaub and Amy Huntington, is just what we need to get us in the mood for the delicious bounty that awaits us. Michelle and Amy capture all the tantalizing sights, smells, sounds, and flavors of a bustling farmers’ market with 18 sprightly, sensory-rich poems and delightful, animated pictures packed with charming details.
The fun begins on the dedication page, where we see a farm family at sunrise loading crates full of freshly picked produce onto their pickup truck. Then down the road they go, with the opening poem’s happy declaration:
It’s market day.
Spy the wonders
heaps of berries,
Once this celebratory tone is established, we meet a young girl eating cereal and strawberries while her big dog licks his chops. They’re in for a big day at the market!
While you sleep,
by silver light.
wash, and load.
Hop in trucks.
Hit the road.
Just as dawn
pinks the sky,
stretch, and sigh.
Set up tables,
tents, and bins.
By the time
your day begins,
the farmers’ day
is in full swing —
enjoy the bounty
that they bring.
Soon, an urban setting is gradually transformed as farmers set up their tents and tables. Young readers will quickly recognize the farm family we saw earlier, especially the boy and his dog, and we’ll meet his dad Farmer Rick, who takes great pains to set up his table just so.
Farmer Rick’s meticulous
when setting up his stand.
He places all his items
into stacks precisely planned.
His cauliflower towers
take him eons to align.
His pyramids of peppers
show impeccable design.
Not one sloppy heap of beets,
no single misplaced pea.
Each veggie castle he constructs
has perfect symmetry.
But when Miss Mallory arrives,
Rick sports a wary smile —
she always picks her produce from
the bottom of the pile!
Then it’s off to explore the rest of the market, the newly befriended boy, girl, and their respective dogs having a grand old time sampling fruit (watch that dog!) and inhaling the transcendent aromas of the bakery table. Pure bliss!
Alluring aromas float over tent tops —
a whiff of vanilla, a whisper of spice,
A hint of some cinnamon dusted on cupcakes,
a sniff of plump blackberries tucked into pies.
Follow your nose to the freshly baked loaves:
oatmeal, sourdough, whole wheat, and rye.
Croissants and muffins, still warm from the oven,
so tempting, so scrumptious. Which ones will you try?
Oh yes, that’s what I’m talkin’ about! After that poem, we’re floating on air as we enjoy the rest of the market with poems that pay homage to glorious dirt (which crops need to grow), sweet butter-dripping-down-your-chin corn on the cob, free-range eggs, clover honey (“liquid-gold alchemy”), mischievous blueberries and wild, on-the-run gooseberries. Yum!
But a farmers’ market is about more than just the food. There’s the “twing, twang, twiddle” of banjo and fiddle, the “dizzzy, whizzzy whirrr” of the grinder sharpening tools, and a chance to play dress up and get your face painted. A farmers’ market is about neighbors getting together, people making new friends, knowing the vendors on a first name basis (hello, Rick, Sally, Greg, Antonio!), the invigorating sense of community spirit, and pride in buying local.
Michelle’s poems sing with the music of engagement and vitality — they’re lively and fun to read aloud with their rollicking rhythms and inventive (never predictable) rhymes. “Wild Dreams in Two Voices” begs a performance — how often do we get to hear a Green Zebra Tomato talk to a Dinosaur Kale?
If these poems can be thought of as the soloist on a stage, then Amy’s fabulous illustrations serve as pitch perfect orchestral accompaniment, with a cool visual narrative that provides an interesting subtext for the poems and ties everything together. Munchkins will love following the boy and girl as they romp through the pages with their spirited dogs. 🙂
Amy has populated the pages with a diverse cast of characters — young and old, black, white, and brown — all interacting and making the most of the experience as they chat, chew, laugh, browse, roam, dance, sip, chomp, relax, share, and savor. Her watercolor, graphite, ink, and digital full bleed spreads brim with joy, activity, and goodness, a surefire way to inspire everyone to visit their own farmers’ markets and, above all, to eat healthy.
If you’re hungry for a poetry picture book that’s plucky, informative and captivating, pick this one fresh from the vine and put it in your market basket right away. 🙂
Pirates dig for riches
on distant island shores.
Bargain hunters rummage
through shelves of old thrift stores.
Divers search for gems and gold
on ancient sunken ships.
We find and eat our treasures
on local market trips.
♥ GOOSEBERRY PIE RECIPE ♥
Lucky us, Michelle is sharing one of her favorite recipes using farmers’ market produce. Thanks so much, Michelle! 🙂
Michelle: Here’s a recipe to go along with the poem “Wild Gooseberry Chase” in Fresh-Picked Poetry. My father ALWAYS ordered gooseberry pie when we dined out at Poppin’ Fresh Pies (now Baker’s Square) when I was little. I never actually saw a gooseberry outside of a pie until I was an adult perusing my local farmers’ market. These elusive tart berries are only available in June and July. It might take some wild goose chasing to find them, but the hunt is worth it. They make one scrumptious pie.
Michelle's Gooseberry Pie
- 1 quart green gooseberries (about 1-1/3 pounds)
- 1 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 pre-made refrigerator pie crusts
Pull off tops and tails of gooseberries and halve berries lengthwise. Cook berries and 1 cup sugar over moderate heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Stir in tapioca and simmer, stirring occasionally, five minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon butter and cool.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Fit bottom pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate. Cut top pie crust into 1-inch-wide strips. Fill shell with cooled filling. Brush edges with water.
Weave remaining dough strips over filling, forming a “lattice lace” pattern. Melt remaining tablespoon butter and brush over pastry. Sprinkle with remaining teaspoon sugar, avoiding edges.
Bake pie in middle of oven 20 minutes, or until edge is just golden. While pie is baking, cut a 12-inch square of foil. Put foil on top of pie to keep edge from burning and bake pie 30 minutes more, or until filling is bubbly and pastry strips are golden.
~ from Michelle Schaub, author of Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market (Charlesbridge, 2017), as posted at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.
FRESH-PICKED POETRY: A Day at the Farmers’ Market
written by Michelle Schaub
illustrated by Amy Huntington
published by Charlesbridge, March 2017
Poetry Picture Book for ages 4-8, 32 pp.
*Includes “Fresh-Picked Reasons to Spend a Day at the Market,” singing the praises of farmers’ markets with a link to help you locate the one nearest you.
♥ Check out the Educator’s Guide at Michelle Schaub’s website.
♥ Lovely interview at Kidlit Takeaways!
♥ Enjoy the Official Book Trailer:
♥ This book pairs nicely with Too Many Tomatoes by Eric Ode and Kent Culotta and Fresh Delicious by Irene Latham and Mique Moriuchi, both featured previously at Alphabet Soup!
🍑 SPECIAL BOOK GIVEAWAY! 🍅
The publisher is generously donating a brand new copy for one lucky Alphabet Soup reader. For a chance to win, simply leave a comment at this post no later than midnight (EDT) April 12, 2017. You may also enter by sending an email with “FARMERS’ MARKET” in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Good Luck!
Fresh Delicious author Irene Latham is our Poetry Friday host this week. Scamper over to Live Your Poem to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere. Enjoy your weekend!
This review is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best aprons and bibs, and come join the fun!
*Interior spreads published by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2017 Michelle Schaub, illustrations © 2017 Amy Huntington, published by Charlesbridge. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.