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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Rice Pudding, written by Jorge Argueta and illustrated by Fernando Vilela. Groundwood, 2010. $$18.95 ages 3 and up

"Put the pot on the stove
and start to cook the rice
at a low temperature.
The flames heating the pot
are rainbow hands.
In the kitchen there is a rainbow
hugging the pot."

As we, in Brandon, enjoy the Lieutenant Governor's Winter Festival which celebrates the many people who make our small city on the prairies 'home', we honor the diversity. It is such an important celebration and we are all better when we know more about the people who share our streets, schools, neighborhoods. For those who cannot visit the pavilions, there are many books that help children gain understanding of world communities.

In this unusual and yummy book we learn about one of my favorite childhood desserts...rice pudding. If it is part of your family history, I guarantee that when you finish sharing the book it you will be off to round up a big pot and all the ingredients needed to make your own.

The author begins by telling his readers that he loves all kinds of rice:

"..brown rice,
fried rice,
stewed rice,
watery rice,
chicken and rice,
beans and rice."

He continues the poetic journey in both languages...Spanish and English; and he goes on to describe just exactly how rice pudding is made. The text is rhythmic and inviting. The illustrations are filled with action and give young readers access to the putting this culinary creation on the table: 
"In the kitchen the rice is singing.
In the kitchen it is raining
Little white grain drops."

Once the water has been absorbed, and with the help of his mother, the young cook adds a 'waterfall' of milk to the pot on the stove. As the rest of the ingredients become part of the pudding, the smells waft through the house and provide the perfect invitation for the family to gather 'to slurp up' this tasty treat.
What magic there is in creating something that the whole family can enjoy! That is exactly what Jorge Argueta and Fernando Vilela have done for all of us. This is a book to be savored. Now, I'm off to get the pot on the stove!

The rumor is that a forthcoming poem might teach us how to make guacamole! I can't wait.

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