When I first read Mama Panya’s Pancakes (written by Mary and Rich Chamberlin and illustrated by Julia Cairns), the boy in the tale, Adika, really made an impression on me. He is irresistibly endearing. I knew immediately that I would tell people about the book. AND I HAVE.
“And the feast began, as they sat under the baobab tree to eat Mama Panya’s pancakes.”
The book tells the story of a mother who takes her son to the market with her to buy the provisions for pancakes. She does not have very much money and, much to her chagrin, Adika invites every friend they encounter to dinner. Although she is worried that she will not have enough food to feed everyone, it turns out that her fears are unfounded: as they arrive, each of the guests brings something to share.
I think that what I appreciate most about Mama Panya’s Pancakes is that it is timeless. Adika reminds his mother that sharing with friends is important and together they find that when they give to their community, their community gives back to them as well. We can all benefit from hearing that lesson one more time.
As well, the book is filled with astonishing and vivid illustrations. Mama Panya, her son, and their dog appear together on every page. Moreover, each page brilliantly and beautifully portrays the Kenyan culture and, in particular, Mama Panya’s rural lifestyle. The characters dress differently than our culture does, are surrounded by African wildlife, use Kiswahili words, and have experiences that are unique to their culture.
Pros: This book is a wonderful way to reinforce the value of community, generosity, and cultural acceptance. It would be perfect for any child, especially one who is reluctant to share.
Cons: None. I think the authors and illustrator all did a splendid job.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. Come on, the book highlights a different culture (complete with a recipe, glossary, and cultural index at the back of the book) and tells an exceptional story to which we can all relate. Definitely buy.
Reading tip: Pick one or two books and read them every day. Will you get tired of them? Yes. Will you sometimes think that being stoned to death would be more fun? Yes. But before you know it, your child will start to realize that there is more to those one or two books than just flipping pages at the speed of light or gulping down cardboard corners. They will likely start showing interest in the most familiar stories long before they stop ripping the dust jackets on everything else.
What to do: You can enter this giveaway by leaving a comment below or sending me an e-mail answering this question: if you could go anywhere in Africa, where would you choose and why? All you need is an e-mail address. The giveaway ends Thursday evening at 9 P.M. Pacific Time and the winners will be announced Friday morning. You can leave one entry every day, for a total of up to three entries.
For extra entries: This is on the honor system, so please be honest. I will award you one extra entry if you vote for me at Top Mommy Blogs by clicking here or at Top Baby Blogs by clicking here. Each day you vote, I will award you two additional entries. Don’t forget to let me know! I am hoping to maintain or move into a spot in the top ten on both sites so that we can slowly begin to reach more parents about the joys and importance of reading with children. If we inspire just ONE parent to read to their kid today, it’s worth a vote or two, don’t you think?
Filed as Odin the Owl: Just Read! Sarah Photographs of Sarah Family life Family photographs Charlotte Photographs of Charlotte Charlotte's babyhood; 3-12 months Reading Kid lit Literacy tips Children's literature Children's book reviews
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