National Book Award Winners 2008

Sweet Season

Maple syrupseasonimageDB.cgi  Here in southern New England, we will not see maple-sugaring season until the end of the winter, but Junior and I always look forward to it. We've latched onto the tradition as if we were members of the Ingalls family, always showing up for the sugaring demonstration at the nature center and discussing the logistics of one day tapping the (very skinny) maple trees in our yard.

I've also read aloud many books on the subject, and a cheerful new picture book makes a sweet addition to the list. Maple Syrup Season, written by Ann Purmell and illustrated by Jill Weber, takes young readers through the whole process. Using sugaring terms (and a glossary), the factual book depicts an extended (fictional) family's experiences:

Dad helps the uncles pour sap from the tree buckets into gathering buckets and then into a giant barrel on the sled.

Weber renders the winter scenes with whimsical, folk-art style illustrations, and in her pictures, even the family pets and animals in the woods get in on the action. Weber and Purmell also teamed up for 2006's Christmas Tree Farm.

For more recommendations, see also

"Maple Sugar Season," Chicken Spaghetti, 3/15/07

"Laura Ingalls Wilder Inspires Kitchen Mess," Chicken Spaghetti, 3/16/07.

Plus, the Chicago Tribune rated maple syrups today.  How's that for serendipity?


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Folksy. Love it. Anything that whispers Norman Rockwell. That said, can't wait for Thanksgiving!

Happy T. Day in advance, Ms. Gottawrite. The illustrations don't resemble Norman Rockwell's, more Kathy Jakobsen's, if I had to make a comparison. Patricia Polacco was obviously inspired by Rockwell, but that's another post altogether!

Hi love the maple sugaring time of year. A few years ago a disease wiped out many of the maple trees in our community. There used to be buckets hanging all over town, now it's a treat to see one of the buckets there. I wish my children could appreciate the visual sign of changing seasons that I grew up with.

That's terrible about the maple trees. They're so beautiful. I love seeing the buckets, too, even though they're usually just at the nature center...

My Dad took the kids maple sugaring a few years ago when we were in Massachusetts, I would love to read that book too my students then show them pictures of my kids and my Dad from that day.

I remember my kids being totally aw-struck when they came home - they couldn't believe that the stuff on their pancakes came form a TREE!

I bet your kids had a ball that day, Kathy. How fun!

When I was reading your post, this book reminds me of the book called Just in Time for Christmas, which also relies on syrup.

It's outdoorsy, it's family tradition, it speaks of a simpler time, and to use your word, it's "folksy". I love it!!

Karen, my library has that book--and it's checked in. Yay! Thanks for the tip.

This sounds fun. I have always like the idea of maple syrup coming from trees and the way we get it, even if I am not a maple syrup fan. Reading about it makes me want to try it.

Cari, maybe someone needs to start a molasses-book trend! Molasses was certainly popular when I was growing up down South.

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