“Before We Eat: From Farm to Table” by Pat Brisson and Mary Azarian. (Tilbury House)

Summer is all about abundance: fruit stands beside the road, fields full of pick-your-own produce, and farmers markets — not to mention the bounty of backyard gardens. Lucky the child who lives near open land. But many children, accustomed only to the weekly slog though the aisles of an air-
conditioned supermarket, may be unaware of the invisible army of people whose efforts made those mounds of melons, bins of beans and jars of honey appear in their shopping carts. From truck drivers to migrant workers to fishermen, Pat Brisson’s gently cadenced rhyming text pays grateful homage to all those who contribute their work along the way. “As we sit around this table/ let’s give thanks as we are able/ to all the folks we’ll never meet/ who helped provide this food we eat.” Caldecott Medal-winner Mary Azarian’s hand-colored woodblock prints, as straightforward and sturdy as hooked rugs or pieced quilts, form the perfect accompaniment to this secular grace. Varying from homey interiors to the restless shimmer of a vast, nearly empty sea lapping against the sides of a lobster boat, the bold black outlines and rich colors form an irresistible tapestry of sights, smells and sounds. The final dedication reads, in part, “For small farmers everywhere on Earth — stewards of the land, heart of community.” One need only add a nondenominational “amen” to that.

Kristi Elle Jemtegaard

BEFORE WE EAT

From Farm to Table

By Pat Brisson / Illustrated by Mary Azarian Tilbury House. $16.95.
Ages 3-6 and for family sharing