A child disgruntled by a drizzly winter day is cheered up by a trip to the pantry.
“Bumping down the stairs [feels] nothing like sledding,” which has Mary out of sorts: The rain in Juneau has melted all the snow. But when she complains to her father about their damp climate, he defends their “homeland” by giving the little girl a tour of their pantry, chock-a-block with the foods they hunted or harvested around Juneau. There’s salmon, of course, both canned and smoked, and deer, along with dried seaweed and blueberries. Each of the foodstuffs comes with a story about how it was obtained, celebrations of family and geography that have Mary convinced that their homeland “is a pretty good place to live” by the end of the book. Though it isn’t explicitly stated, Mary and her father are likely Alaskan Natives, like the author and illustrator Rizal. While the narrative is a long one, pushing the slim book to six short chapters, the warm relationship between Mary and her dad and the exciting adventures Daddy relates should help to keep readers engaged. Rizal’s collages employ Northwest Coast Indian patterns and motifs, and their incorporation into Koch’s mixed-media paintings is the strongest element of the book; black-and-white vertical strips evoke both totem poles and birch trees looming over the autumnal landscape in one striking full-page image.
A heartfelt evocation of the importance of place and family. (Fiction. 6-9)