Monday, January 2, 2017

Nonfiction Monday: Mountain Chef: How one man lost his groceries, changed his plans, and helped cook up the National Park Service by Annette Bay Pimental, illustrated by Rich Lo

While I’m generally not a fan of picture book biographies, primarily because they don’t circulate well in my library, I do have space for titles that have something unique to offer. In this book, Annette Bay Pimental explores the life and circumstances of a little-known person who nevertheless had an impact on American history.

Tie Sing was an explorer and innovator at a time when Chinese people in America were discriminated against, when most Chinese were restricted to cooking or laundry. He used his cooking skills to become a well-known trail cook and his greatest triumph was working for the Mather expedition, which took a group of men into the mountains and inspired the National Park Service. Pimental describes the mountains and especially the food in lush detail, talking about how Tie Sing surmounted difficulties and added his own contribution to encouraging the upkeep and protection of America’s parks.

Colorful watercolor illustrations show the men’s excitement and interest in the stunning scenery and Sing’s delicious meals. Back matter includes Pimental’s research into Sing’s life, photographs, and sources.

Verdict: Even if you find it hard to move picture books for older readers, I think this one is worth purchasing and promoting to your local schools and homeschoolers, always a good audience for longer picture books. There are very few titles that talk about the contribution of the silent and forgotten members of expeditions, often minorities, and this is an important addition to American history.

ISBN: 9781580587112; Published 2016 by Charlesbridge; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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