This 32 page book written on an AR 4.2 is very text heavy and poorly illustrated, in my opinion, but if you have a patient audience, the story is really sweet and flows pretty well. Plus, the moral and introduction to 4th through 6th graders about hunger and food scarcity in a gentle non condescending manner, makes the book stay with the reader in a humbling way.
On Saturdays, Mama works and its just Nora and her baba hanging out. And every Saturday night, Nora’s baba makes couscous, but tonight Nora is starving and the couscous is taking too long. As they wait Baba tells her a story about the butter man.
Growing up in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, how much food the family had depended on the rain and the crops. Once during a drought, Nora’s grandfather had to leave his family to try and find work, so the family could eat. As the portions of bread Nora’s baba was given decreased in size and the butter disappeared completely, his mother would urge him to go outside and wait for the butter man, to ask him to spare a little. As he would sit and wait he would nibble and the bread and would finish it still waiting for the butter man. This daily ritual passed the time as his stomach rumbled, and finally after a while his father returned with flour, couscous, vegetables, and meat. Baba tells Nora that while the butter man never came, the rains did. And just as Nora hopefully appreciates true hunger, so does the reader, Mama then comes home, the couscous is ready, they say Bismillah and dive in.
The only real Islamic reference is Bismillah, being said before they eat. The story is followed by an Author’s note and a much needed Glossary. A bit of Moroccan culture comes through as the baba waits for the butter man, and with all the talk of food, but it isn’t done well for me in the illustrations. The characters’ closeups are distracting, and while the Author’s note explains their clothing and what not, I feel like they didn’t help the story come to life.
Here is a book trailer: