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The Butter Man
Alalou, Elizabeth and Ali Alalou; Julie Klear Essakalli (illus.) The Butter Man. Waterman, MA: Charlesbridge Publishing, 2008. $14.95, ISBN 978-1580891271.

Note: While Nora waits for the couscous her father is cooking to be finished, he tells her a story about his youth in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. CABA Honor Book

Review: Nora, a young girl of Moroccan heritage, hears a story about her father's childhood in a small Berber village in the Atlas Mountains of southern Morocco while her father prepares her family's usual Saturday dinner, couscous. She hears how her father and his family, and his village, lived through both drought and plenty in their agricultural region. Reflecting the contemporary realities of the widespread migration of Moroccans to various countries around the world, the book suggests the passage of family history and tradition within a modern household where gender rules are flexible (the father is making the couscous) and schedules reflect the standard work week (couscous is traditionally eaten on Fridays,not Saturdays). Elizabeth and Ali Alalou balance the two worlds without relying on sensationalism or an orientalizing of rural Morocco. The art work of Julie Klear Essakalli brings the warm Moroccan countryside to life with her semi-impressionistic style painted with a rich palette of muted colors. Includes educational notes on Berber culture in Morocco. Highly recommended for primary school children.

Copyright 2008 All rights reserved

Rating: HR Grade: P Type: Book

Reviewed by: Lynne Dahman

Subject: North Africa / Morocco / Fiction / CABA honor