Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard is a recent book (if has not already will be) getting awards, attention and reviewed everyplace possible. Is this book worth the attention? Perhaps. Is it this “far out best story ever”? Maybe. Are the illustrations the “far out best ever seen”? Maybe. That is a personal choice for the reader to decide.
This is a book you might need to read multiple times. The story itself is straight forward. Basically, it is little poems that talk about the history and meanings of making fry bread. You see a piece of Native American culture come to life. This book could be read aloud to as young as four or five and as old as eight or nine. The starting to read, but still with help, crowd could also give it a try. You could read it aloud to older students who are doing studies on Native American cultures.
However, it is deeper than that. The images of Juana Martinez-Neal accent that. You see a family. You hear how the people not always free to celebrate their culture. They are cool images. In the sense of “hey man, that’s cool” and they are not over powering and in your face colors. There are colors, but they are soothing. Some images you might even consider “fuzzy” but not as if it was a bad printing, but as a deliberate tactic to show the warmth and love of the characters.
However, the art might not be “eye catching” on its own. Flipping through the pages you might not find THE ONE that sticks out. If you saw a few images on line you might think, “Nice. Next.” But when you sit down to enjoy, you will see how they capture the feeling of the story perfectly. It is an informative book that might spark a few conversations. The recipe in the back sounds like a great rainy day or class activity. But also, is just a nice story.