Central locations, streets and parks, are gathering spaces for plentiful produce. Rows of white-tented booths are bursting with fruits, vegetables, fresh-baked breads and pastries, honey and flowers. All the hours, days and weeks of work are spread before browsers and shoppers alike.
There is nothing quite like the farmers' markets in August. In our local area there is at least one for five days of the week. Some communities have markets twice a week. Summer Supper (Random House, May 8, 2018) written by Rubin Pfeffer with pictures by Mike Austin is a spirited salute to those who plant in the spring and relish the results in summer.
With each page turn following the initial text, actions of the families farming and gardening are told through words beginning with the letter "s". In each accompanying illustration other "s" words label elements in the scene; a word like string, sticks, or sun. In order for those seeds to grow water adds moisture to the dirt.
Soon bits of green are seen, getting taller and taller. Color bursts forth in the form of flowers, fruits and vegetables. A shape stands tall among them, guarding the garden. You're doing a stellar job, Mr. Scarecrow.
In time those fruits, vegetables and flowers are picked and placed like a vivid still life on tables for buyers to see. As the day begins to end a family gathers in the kitchen preparing, simmering and mixing ingredients. A group gathers around a large table for an outside supper.
As the sun drops below the horizon the families, now full of home-grown food, make musical memories. Later many hands share in kitchen clean-up. There are bedtime rituals and one typical, final surprise beginning with the letter "s", of course.
One of the first things readers will do after reading this book is take a deep breath and wonder how Rubin Pfeffer thought of all these words beginning with "s". Then they will think of all the fun he must have had searching out these words and how clever he is to have successfully linked them together for this story. The alliteration supplied by the short, succinct sentences creates a spirited cadence. Here is another sentence.
Sizzle, swirl, swish, SAUTE!
The soothing golden yellow canvas with hints of green on the matching dust jacket and book case provide the perfect glow of a summer's day highlighting the bounty of fruits, vegetables and flowers carried by the barefoot boy. It continues over the spine and to the left, on the back, as cornstalks and blossoms frame the words
The same boy stands on the far left of the opening endpapers, now with a hose in hand watering the soil. Rows labeled with signs for all the "s" vegetables, fruits and flowers are displayed in bright colors. A bluebird (happiness) watches. The kettle the boy is holding on the front of the jacket and case becomes a placeholder for the text on the title page.
All of the two page illustrations by Mike Austin in full color present lively and animated scenes. He alters his perspective inviting readers into each situation. When the children and a parent are planting the view is larger. We move in a bit closer as a little girl waters the new shoots. When a bird and chicken inspect a worm we are even closer plus Mike gives us a cross-section of the roots attached to the sprouts, shoots and stalks.
The white text is placed along the bottom of each picture within a colored band alternating between reds, shades of green, hues of blue, orange, brown, purple, pink, and maroon. The characters' features are minimal but convey every emotion. Readers will appreciate the mix of races shown in the images. On the closing endpapers, Mike Austin again features the boy among a vista bursting with enlarged flowers, vegetables and fruits. He is carrying a pea pod so big it stretches past and above his spread arms.
One of my many favorite illustrations is of the scarecrow. Across the bottom of the page are sprightly and brightly hued daisies. On the left and right are cornstalks and big-faced sunflowers. On the left, poles and string hold up tomato plants. Four birds are squawking and in flight. One has dropped a strawberry. The scarecrow is wearing a large-checked shirt in many colors. Red gloves are his hands. He is smiling from cheek to cheek. On his head, over his straw hair, is a baseball cap.
For a unit on farming, gardening, seeds, summer, food, families, alliteration or simply for fun, Summer Supper written by Rubin Pfeffer with pictures by Mike Austin is superb. Readers and listeners alike will savor the sounds made by the words and feel the happiness in all the images spread throughout their collective souls. I highly recommend this title for your professional and personal collections.
To learn more about Rubin Pfeffer and Mike Austin and their other work, please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites. Author Johnell Dewitt features Rubin Pfeffer in his role as literary agent on his site. At the publisher's website you can view interior images.