The First Strawberries by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Anna Vojtech
Rating: 4 stars
I found myself reflecting on my marriage after reading this book, something that is appropriate every day, but especially when my seventh wedding anniversary is a few days away. This book was a well-timed gift that made me a little more mindful of the kindness required in a marriage, especially a wonderfully long one.
I know, I know...you're wondering if you've stumbled upon the right blog. Isn't this supposed to be about children's books?!
Seems that The First Strawberries is a well-known Cherokee tale about how strawberries first arrived on earth. The first man and first woman lived in harmony until one day, when the man returned from hunting, he found his wife gathering flowers instead of readying his dinner. He spoke angrily at her and, in response, she turned and walked away from him.
(Man! That's all it took?! Geez. My sarcastic side did chuckle.)
Of course he runs after her, and the Sun sees how sincerely he regrets his unkind words. In order to help him, the Sun creates blackberries, and then blueberries, and then raspberries to try and get the woman to stop. She doesn't. Finally, the Sun creates strawberries. The woman stops to pick and eat them, allowing her husband to finally catch her. He apologizes, and they feast together on the sweet fruit.
It was great to read this with Lorelei and Ben. I call Jonathan "my number one" despite their repeated attempts to push him aside and become the top-dogs. Nope, I say, he will always come first. I think that this irritates them and confuses them, but it's the message we want to send to our kids: that the love we have for each other is important and strong and the foundation for the whole family. So, to have a book about a couple who have a disagreement--which we certainly have, especially about how to load the dishwasher--and resolve it amicably is...a little gift.
The illustrations are not awesome, I admit. They're sort of washed out and not eye-catching, especially to my kids who are spoiled by the best illustrators around. But the message is good and important. I doubt kids would choose this to read again and again but...it's an important one, I think.