So glad you popped in — you’re just in time for some hot, lightly salted (with a little bit o’ butter) popcorn!
America’s favorite snack — so friendly, affordable, and accommodating — is pure magic. All it needs is a little heat and it’s more than happy to make itself. 🙂
Ever wonder how those hard little kernels manage to turn themselves into a mountain of fluffy, flavorful bites?
In Let’s Pop, Pop, Popcorn!, a brand new picture book by Cynthia Schumerth and Mary Reaves Uhles (Sleeping Bear Press, 2021), we get a “seed to snack” peek at the process of growing, harvesting, and finally popping tasty, lick-the-salt-off-your-fingers popcorn. Mmmmmm!
In jaunty rhyming verse, half a dozen enthusiastic kids tell us about each step of their special project.
Dig the ground up with a hoe.
Plant the seeds and hope they grow.
Sunshine warms them in the earth.
Raindrops fall to quench their thirst.
They work together, sharing tasks such as hoeing, planting, watering, weeding, and of course, waiting.
How excited they are to see the first shoots come up, as they work diligently to protect their tender green plants, which grow from knee high to waist high, and finally, “past our heads.”
Then it’s finally time to pick the corn “before the frost arrives.” They must then “Shuck them clean so each one dries.”
Next, the best part:
Plink, plunk, plink, then find a pot.
Heat those kernels good and hot.
Steam builds around each kernel’s germ,
Puffs the starch called endosperm.
Not strong enough to hold this load . . .
The shells (called pericarps) explode!
Pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop!
Shake shake shake that pot some more! (Don’t worry, there’s an adult in charge of stove duty.)
Can you smell it? Are you ready for some lipsmacking popcorn? All that’s left to do is to pour those puffy rascals into a big bowl, add some butter and salt and “give a swish.”
Lick our fingers —
Everyone’s all together now, each with his/her own bowl of goodness to toss, crunch, munch, share and chew. Even the dog is smiling.
Schumerth’s spare yet sprightly text (just one line per page) paired with Uhles’s emotive and engaging illustrations impart essential facts while slowly building anticipation.
Uhles’s full bleed spreads are like a movie camera zooming in and out, as we see a girl on her knees planting the seeds, a cutaway picture of the seeds in the dirt just beginning to germinate, and another girl pulling weeds.
This variation in scale amplifies the action even more with extreme close-ups of the kernels exploding inside the hot pot (while two people peek under the lid). You can just about hear the loud popping with all those “pop” words scattered across the pages. Talk about onomatopoiea! Maybe we should call it “poppomatopoeia.” 😀
The kids are a diverse bunch who are accompanied by a scruffy black and white dog who likes being in the middle of things. The final double page spread with everyone enjoying their popcorn sings with pure, unadulterated joy.
Let’s Pop, Pop, Popcorn! begs to be read aloud, and is a fun lesson in teamwork, cooperation, and taking pride in one’s accomplishments. Kids love to eat what they grow or cook. They probably already like popcorn, so growing their own will make them love it even more.
Back matter includes a note about corn, an explanation of why corn pops (with photo diagrams), a science activity and an art project, making this STEM title perfect for nature and science units.
Only one problem: anyone who reads this book will crave crave crave pop pop popcorn!
What’s your favorite way to eat popcorn? Do you have a fond popcorn memory?
For me, it’s mostly about going to the movies with my parents when I was little, loving the smell of fresh, buttery popcorn as soon as you enter the air conditioned theatre, seeing that big popcorn machine with the glass sides and metal popper overflowing with fluffy flakes, and the concessionist with the big metal scoop filling those red and white striped boxes or bags just for me.
I was also a big Cracker Jack fan and loved the caramel popcorn balls my aunt made at Christmas. The first time my parents spent Christmas with us in Virginia, we strung popcorn garlands for the tree.
(Don’t know how it’s possible, but . . . ) I’m old enough to remember when Jiffy Pop first came on the market in the early 60’s. The thrill of that foil top expanding as more and more kernels popped! And then came the delicious convenience of microwave popcorn. Though I own two freestanding popcorn poppers as well as two microwave popping bowls, I like those popping bags best (hello, Paul Newman’s Sea Salt). I’ve never made it the old fashioned way, in a heavy pot on the stove, have you?
Think about it. What would movie nights, sleepovers, circuses, street fairs or sporting events be without popcorn? No wonder we all love it!
LET’S POP, POP, POPCORN!
Written by Cynthia Schumerth
Illustrated by Mary Reaves Uhles
Published by Sleeping Bear Press, 2021
Picture Book for ages 5-8, 32 pp.
**On shelves March 15, 2021
SPECIAL BOOK GIVEAWAY
The publisher is generously offering a brand new copy for one lucky Alphabet Soup reader. For a chance to win, please leave a comment at this post telling us your favorite way to eat popcorn and/or share a fond popcorn memory, no later than midnight (EST) Wednesday, March 17, 2021. You may also enter by sending an email with POPCORN in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Good luck!
*Interior spreads posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2021 Cynthia Schumerth, illustrations © 2021 Mary Reaves Uhles, published by Sleeping Bear Press. All rights reserved.
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**Copyright © 2021 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.