A backyard barbecue. A hot dog at the ballpark. Snow cones at the beach. Chocolate s'mores or homemade popsicles. What foods remind you of summer? We thought we'd take a break from some of our heavier topics by giving you food for thought on a topic that can whet your appetite. We're fortunate to have several books to give away this time. Boyds Mills Press generously offered several food-themed books geared toward younger readers. If you're reading this poolside or at your favorite coffee shop, we hope you'll enjoy this issue and pass it along to your friends.
"I have been up to see the Congress and they do not seem to be able to do anything
except to eat peanuts, and chew tobacco, while my army is starving."
Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee
"I will not move my army without onions!"
Union Gen. U.S. Grant
Unless you're a plant that depends on photosynthesis you must eat food to survive. It's a daily ritual we all rather enjoy; don't you agree?
As a new writer, I heeded the advice to "write what you know" -- so food it was! I quickly narrowed that topic down when I paid $125, much to my husband's chagrin, for a piece of hardtack used by a soldier during the civil war. As I read more about this over-sized saltine cracker, I became hooked on learning more about what the military ate during wartime.
Seemingly endless information is available to those willing to dig. Books, journals, newspapers and the national archives online have become my best friends. The research and documentation of facts has been fun, frustrating, intriguing, inspiring and tedious -- often simultaneously! I've spent months reading primary sources -- letters and diaries written by officers, soldiers and prisoners of war. Food was almost always mentioned: its quality, quantity (or lack thereof).
I soon learned a new word that appeared in mainly union diaries -- the regimental sutler. These civilian salesmen sold groceries and dry goods to the soldiers, charging exorbitant prices. On payday, the men would rush to the sutler's tent, many going into debt to supplement their boring rations. Little quality control existed. For example, a sutler's moon pies could make one sick for home or just plain sick! That was the gamble the soldiers were willing to take!
My dream is to create a picture book, utilizing a treasure-trove of quirky information I've come across in my research. Learning through laughter -- or a groan--is my hope for the kids who will read it.
Marjorie Sembert Flintom, a native of St. Marys, PA, is a former elementary teacher and teacher of the visually impaired. She is married to Jack, a retired pastor and actor interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg. She has written several articles for Highlights Magazine, half of which are about-- guess what --food! Jack and "Margie" share their home with a collection of rescued animals.
Note: Beatrice never had milk until she received her goat at age 12.
This book is the true account of Beatrice Bira whose life was transformed
Lori is an artist and teacher. You can find more examples of her work here.
by Joyce Hostetter
- Bring a handful of food to class.(finger foods are fine!) Give children an opportunity to sample the foods. Then ask them to write about one of those foods. What does that food remind them of? Who does it make them think about and why? How does it make them feel?
- In the picture book, Beatrice's Goat (illustration above) a goat makes a profound difference in a family's life and its ability to nourish itself and others. Share this or some similar story of outreach and compassion with your students. Ask them to write about a time when they helped provide food for someone who needed it or even a time they were hungry and someone fed them.
- Share Marjorie Flintom's article (above) with your students. Ask students to imagine they have the power to deliver a surprise meal to a whole regiment of soldiers. Have them write about that in a short story describing comfort foods they'd like to share with tired, hungry soldiers. Encourage them to consider both nutritional, emotional, or even weather related reasons why this food/meal would be an excellent choice. Their story might describe the situation, the food, the logistics of serving, the soldiers' responses and the way it made student feel to give to hungry homesick troops.
A Pre-Teen's Take on Three FOOD books
by Aliki Brandenberg
A king who is leaving his castle to go on a journey plans to stop at one of his lords’ manors. The lord, his lady, and all the servants gather and prepare many delicious foods so that they can give the king a grand feast.
by Roald Dahl
Charlie is a boy who loves chocolate. He and four other children get to tour Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, and are allowed to sample many different candies. The tour is really a test and whoever wins inherits the factory.
GEORGE WASHINGTON'S BREAKFAST
by Jean Fritz
George W. Allen, who is named after George Washington, wonders one morning what President Washington ate for breakfast. He visits the library and Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home. It turns out he finds the answer in an unexpected place.
Aaron Rollins is a ten-year-old who loves reading. He spends his free time creating comics (mostly about superheroes), and playing sports. He’s also a fanatical LEGO builder.
We love to hear from our readers!
You can contact us through the newsletter or individually at the following addresses and websites.
We're also both available for school visits.
- Joanne Hunsberger for proofreading.
- Aaron Rollins for reviewing books.
- Lori Lohstoeter for her beautiful illustration.
- Boyds Mills Press for all donated books.
- Margie Flintom for her expert article.
- Bill Kendig for our new photo.
Have you noticed the "Share" button on the top of this newsletter? If you share TALKING STORY either on social media or email it to a friend, we will enter your name in our giveaway. Please email by July 24, tell us what you have done, and your book preference (we try to honor requests) and we will add your name to the hat!
Send us an
and we'll enter your name to win one of the three books below.
Each will intrigue a young reader in your life.
If you have a book preference, please mention that. We try to honor requests.
(Or better yet, enter right now!)
by Joyce Moyer Hostetter
In Blue, protagonist, Ann Fay Honeycutt tells her Daddy she loves him more than pinto beans and cornbread. And in Aim Junior Bledsoe describes Ann Fay and her father as going together like biscuits and gravy. Because food is so universal it serves as an emotional connection between characters and readers but it also conveys information about a story's unique location, family culture, or even the time of year. Food is just as powerful in fiction as it is in real life!
Congratulations to the winners from our Spring issue.
- Monica O' Quinn won Hormone Jungle.
- Gail Hurlburt won The Legendary Miss Lena.
- Rosi Hollenbeck won
Dorothea Lange: The Photographer who Found the Faces of the Depression.
Our next theme will be Refugees.