Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Maddi's Fridge by Lois Brandt, illustrated by Vin Vogel

Sofia and Maddi are best friends. When Sofia discovers that Maddi has an empty fridge, she tries to honor her promise not to tell and help her friend out at the same time with hilarious - and stinky - results. While Sofia tries to help Maddi, Maddi is helping her finally make it to the top of the climbing wall in the park and Sofia realizes that friends help friends, but sometimes it takes more than one friend. So she tells her mom. Maddi's family receives help and Maddi and Sofia are still friends, always ready to help each other out, because that's what friends do.

The last page of the book includes statistics about hunger in the United States and simple ways that kids can help. The link supplied for more information on hunger organizations right now takes you to the author's website, specifically the page for this book. There is a link to "Fight Hunger" which repeats the same six suggestions from the book and has links to Feeding America and No Kid Hungry.

The art is cartoon style, with neatly drawn containers of food and other items and a collection of characters with comically exaggerated eyes and expressions. Much of the action happens along city streets, where Maddi and Sofia stand out brightly against the lighter, faded backgrounds. The art has a brisk graphic style with smaller spot illustrations, thought balloons, and a casual, sketchy font.

Hunger and poverty is rarely, if ever, addressed in children's books. This book has a nice storyline, paralleling Maddi helping Sofia to climb the wall with Sofia bringing Maddi food. It was nice to see that Sofia, whose family appears to be Hispanic, wasn't automatically made the ones in poverty. Both families appear to be parented by single moms, another thing you don't see often in children's books (at least not explicitly) but the similarities, rather than the differences, between the two girls are what is emphasized; they both have little brothers, they both like playing in the park, they both like treats. Part of the story includes discussion of healthy food as well as the issues of poverty (Sofia asks at dinner each night if the food they're eating is healthy before trying to take it to Maddi and there are several discussions of which food is healthy and which is a sometimes treat).

It is a little more text-heavy than the typical picture book, but the illustrations are attractive enough that most older children will enjoy listening to it.  The most unrealistic part was that the two girls were running around and playing on the climbing wall alone. Really? They look to be about 7. Every climbing wall I've ever seen was heavily supervised with safety gear and I can't imagine any  kids being allowed to run around the city streets, especially in the evening. That's more of an adult perspective though; most kids will likely not notice.

Verdict: This has a decent plot aside from the lesson and the illustrations are fun. Recommended for purchase if you need more titles on this topic (and I'm betting you don't have any). I would probably put it in a special collection as it's a little too didactic for a general picture book section, in my opinion.

ISBN: 9781936261291; Published September 2014 by Flash Light Press; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library


Ami said...

What a sweet way to address a difficult topic! Sounds like one you might paraphrase in story time. I'll have to order a copy to take a look at!

Shari Greenspan said...

Jennifer, thank you so much for your wonderful review of Maddi's Fridge. We are thrilled that you recommend this book for purchase. Librarians and teachers may be interested to know that we have a Common Core Curriculum Guide as well as free printable activity pages on Sincerely, Shari Greenspan, Editor