Our first review. Here we go! First book up is THIS IS OUR BABY, BORN TODAY by Varsha Bajaj and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler. Many of the Austin members of SCBWI were anticipating the born-day of this picture book, and I can see why. I read this to my two littles, who are 6 and 9 years old, and our collective feedback is, “what a sweet story!” This Is Our Baby, Born Today, celebrates the first day of an elephant’s life with a cast of loving characters — from mama to aunts to cousins to the moon. My six-year-old (and, no, I did not prompt him to say this) enjoyed the repetition, which gave the book a rise-and-fall rhythm, kind of like riding an elephant as it sways from side to side. My nine-year-old thought the book was beautiful, especially the warm illustrations, but he felt it was too young for him. Fair enough. It is, but he appreciated it none-the-less. For parents, a heartfelt message comes through. A message about what inspires and carries you through your own childhood to adulthood and the honoring of the great creatures — BIG and small — that ride along on this earth with us. We must take care.
I certainly look forward to reading this sun-shiny book of an elephant’s born day to my son’s first grade class.
OK, now on to the other portion of the review. I asked the boys, “If this book were a pie, what kind of pie would it be?” Such an odd question, but good things come from odd questions. My youngest said, “a chocolate pie with elephant cut-outs to make it look like they are playing in the mud.” My oldest said, “star anise and cinnamon pumpkin pie.” (He is my foodie, mind you.) And I made the pie recommended by the kiddo who would actually participate with me in the kitchen; therefore, the foodie won out. Here’s his take (with my help) on a pumpkin pie…
STAR ANISE AND CINNAMON PUMPKIN PIE
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground star anise
1/4 tsp ground clove
2 large eggs
1 can pureed pumpkin
12 fl. oz. heavy cream
1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell (I will provide my dough recipe soon. It is without fail and delicious!)
Mix brown sugar, honey, salt, cinnamon, star anise and clove in small bowl. In a separate larger bowl, beat the eggs. Add the honey, pumpkin and dry ingredients mixture and stir. Slowly stir in the heavy cream. Pour the mixture in a pie shell. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 40-50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 2 hours and serve or refrigerate.
UPDATE: The pie was DELICIOUS! Even my picky eater honked down a slice and begged for another.