The cut-paper artwork of Nikki McClure is immediately recognizable. And magical. How can her work be so subtle and subdued when the lines are so heavy and the colors so bold? Despite the thickness and opacity, McClure is able to reveal the precise facial expression of the discerning apple shopper and the rumpled softness of the lacinato kale leaf. Good thing she has these mysterious revelatory skills, because her new picture book is about people shopping for food.
In the gorgeous To Market, To Market, McClure documents one mother-child trip to one farmer’s market in the Pacific Northwest. Aside from the smoked wild salmon, there’s plenty the shoppers at Lippit Park and the White Church and Coastal Growers Market share with shoppers at McClure’s market: heaps of produce; reminders to refrain from more than one free sample cube of cheese; muscular arms with sleeve tattoos; and the virtuous feeling of eating pastry while shopping for local, sustainable, organic vegetables.
The book begins, as so many days do, with a grocery list. And what a relief! This could easily have been, but is decidedly not, another vegetable-pushing children’s book: Apples, Kale, Smoked Salmon, Honey, Blueberry Turnover, Napkins, Cheese. Armed with their shopping basket and this list, the balanced-diet adhering mother and child explore the market, finding each item on their list and then sharing the story behind that item’s existence: the people who grew the food; the guys who rolled the dough; the bees who fanned nectar with their wings; the goat whose milk was suctioned with a hose. Each item on the list is illustrated with a full-page bleed, underlining the feeling of abundance.
The book ends with a table full of family and friends enjoying a colorful meal, and with words worth sharing at any meal–whether that meal is a bowl of Lucky Charms, Thai takeout, or tomatoes and beans from a generous neighbor: We remember all the people and all the creatures who worked to make this feast. Thank you for this sustenance.
To Market, To Market
by Nikki McClure
2011 by Abrams Books for Young Readers $18
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