Being American #bookreview #kiddielit #recipe #patriotism #diversity

There WILL be a recipe.

I was given a copy of this book in preparation for today’s post. When I was reading it, I kept thinking, “This is not a book for kids. Kids the age this book would look attractive to would not get this, couldn’t even read it.”


At the end of the book is a marvelous page called:

A Note to Caring Adults from the Authors

Following that, the authors take the text line by line, suggesting ways to open a discussion with a child to whom you’re reading the book. The suggestions are excellent. I can clearly imagine going through What Does It Mean to Be American with my little one, examining the deceptively rich pictures and turning the concepts from abstractions to actionable realities.

What are some things you are grateful for? How do you show your gratitude? … Find three physical things around you and discover who invented or created each one.

Look at this picture, for example.

…leading by example to take action when people need help.


What Does It Mean to Be American is bi-partisan patriotism at its finest, written by a left-leaner and a right-leaner.

What Does It Mean To Be American? will be published by Sourcebooks | Little Pickle Press on April 9, 2019. It’s a gorgeously illustrated, poetically written foray into the concept of being American beyond baseball and apple pie. It’s bipartisan (Rana leans left, her co-author, Elad Yoran, is an Israeli immigrant who is politically right wing) and inclusive.

Co-author Rana DiOrio is a third-generation Italian American who is deeply proud of her Italian heritage and family.

Co-author Elad Yoran is the first American-born child of immigrant parents.

Illustrator Nina Mata’s family emigrated from the Philippines when she was six years old.

And the recipe I promised? How about one adapted from an American Indian recipes book? It, along with other quick and easy dishes can be found on my Alligator Sandwiches page. I call those recipes Alligator Sandwiches because they’re snappy.

Buckskin Bread

  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 cup water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a pie pan. Mix water and flour. Put dough in pie pan. Pat down fairly flat with water-coated hands. Bake about 30 minutes, or until risen and brown. That’s all there is to it! At first taste, you may think it’s kind of bland, but it is excellent with soups and stews, or warm and slathered with butter.

A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Follow the suggestion. Grab something near to you and research to find who invented it.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Being American #bookreview #kiddielit #recipe #patriotism #diversity

  1. Ally Bean

    February 26, 2019 at 8:05am

    Interesting title of a book. Any definitive conclusions in it? I’d really love to know the answer to that question considering the hateful behavior and divisive words used by politicians & their lackeys as they pretend to care about this country. Just saying…?

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      February 26, 2019 at 8:34am

      Definitive? Yes and no, because it isn’t a simple issue, is it? There are central values and behaviors that left and right can agree on, like helping those in need. HOW you help those in need is a matter for debate. One caring adult might read that page and discuss with the child the importance of supporting public policies that support the underprivileged. Another caring adult might discuss with the child the importance of direct, hands-on, one-on-one service. Another might point out ways to help people help themselves. These are issues that we, as caring adults, need to DISCUSS with one another, respectfully and with the understanding that the core values are ones we share.

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  2. Rana

    February 26, 2019 at 1:33pm

    Thanks so much for your positive commentary of our new title, Marian. We agree that adults need to read this book as much as (and perhaps more than) children do. It is our hope that caring adults (parents, educators, family, and friends invested in raising like-minded children) will re-learn some of these lessons as preparation for teaching them to our children.

    Meanwhile “Alligator Sandwiches”, because they are snappy. Very funny!

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  3. Amber

    February 27, 2019 at 8:19am

    Thanks for your interesting take, Marian! I think it’s a very valid point that concepts like this are too big for kids to grasp on their own- adults need to engage with them. Also, a tip for beginner bakers: if you don’t have self-rising flour, you can make some by mixing 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder and 0.25 teaspoons of salt into each cup of all purpose flour.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      February 27, 2019 at 8:33am

      Thanks for that conversion, Amber. The cookbook I took this from actually specified regular flour plus salt and baking powder, but two-ingredient bread tickled me, so I used self-rising flour. I keep a wee li’l bag of it, just for this. 🙂

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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