CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 11 . . . . November 11, 2011
Suzie’s Sourdough Circus.
Kathy Sager. Illustrated by Eliska Liska.
Madeira Park, BC: Lost Moose/Harbour Publishing, 2011.
44 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 3-8.
Review by Lara LeMoal.
Bread is my favourite thing to make, first we mix, then knead and bake!
"It goes in the oven while I sleep in bed.
First thing in the morning we get to eat bread.”
British Columbia’s Harbour Publishing is known for their books on all things related to the Pacific Northwest, but perhaps not for its picturebooks. For this reason, Suzie’s Sourdough Circus, by Kathy Sager with illustrations by Eliska Liska, is a particularly welcome addition to their list. This picturebook combines sourdough recipes and Suzie’s circus adventure all in one attractive package.
The ‘circus’ in the title refers to the life and chaos involved in the creation of the sourdough starter. Told in rhyming prose, this picturebook is an adventure in chemistry. Readers follow along with Suzie until bedtime, as she prepares the starter and bakes the bread.
If, at times, the rhymes feel forced, the momentum of the images carries the story along. The ‘cute’ tone is countered by the firm personality displayed in the illustrations. Deceptively simple in design, the images are comprised of only two colours and appear to pop out from the ‘bakery paper’ background. Black and white give definition and structure. This odd, but well-considered contrast works perfectly, the composition is balanced and rich, and the circular peephole-like composition on each page invites the reader in.
The recipes are a necessary element as the story does not stand on its own without them. The four sourdough recipes included at the back of the book are clear and manageable and promise to be delicious! The drawings of the ingredients needed to begin cooking will become a kind of treasure hunt in the kitchen, with young readers matching item to image. Two purposes are served here. The activity of reading being the obvious one, and the second is the possibility that children will feel they are a true part of the creation of their food.
Suzie’s Sourdough Circus will undoubtedly inspire both seasoned as well as new bakers, to experiment in the kitchen. In fact, it might be difficult to look at sourdough in the same way ever again - this thanks to Eliska Liska whose art brings true personality and spark to this story.
Lara LeMoal is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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