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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Winterberries and Apple Blossoms, written by Nan Forler with paintings by Peter Etril Snyder. Tundra, 2011. $24.99 ages 6 and up

"That night, I crawl into bed beneath another quilt -
from another winter, other chatter -
wondering what stories this quilt has heard,
and who will be warmed by the one we're making."

The year begins for Naomi, an Old Order Mennonite girl, with a quilting bee. There are four quilters, and Naomi makes five. It is her first time working alongside the others. Together, they sew and chat.

 As each month passes we learn more about the life that Naomi leads. The poems share her story and are accompanied by a detailed and fascinating glimpse of the described event in Peter Snyder's gentle acrylic artwork.

The seasons change, the daily work goes on and Naomi proves herself to be like most other girls her age...helping the family with their work, playing ball with her schoolmates, even taking her brother's bike when he isn't looking and getting her comeuppance when her skirt becomes entangled in the chain. Poetic justice, some might say. Her days pass quickly, as most days for children do.

Both the author and illustrator live in Waterloo, Ontario and have first-hand knowledge of the Mennonite community there. They capture the essence of the 'plain' life led by Naomi's family and friends in their twelve poems and paintings.

For those of us who want more, the author has added a section filled with recipes that come from the Mennonite tradition of using 'fresh, seasonal ingredients' in their baking. Foodies will be delighted. All can be made with the help of the children in your life, just as Naomi helps in her community.

They make my mouth water!

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