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Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal (The Children's Book Podcast #537)

September 20, 2019



Kevin Noble Maillard (@noblemaillard) and Juana Martinez-Neal (@juanamartinez) share FRY BREAD, their upcoming picture book. We talk about culture and tradition and family and history. We also talk a lot about Kevin’s Aunt Fannie. There is a story behind the entire nature of fry bread and the way Kevin’s text approaches that story is through affirmation statements of what fry bread is and what it means. The book’s narrator walks the readers from the concrete and tangible into the abstract and ineffable, and the journey is helped along with great care from Juana’s beautiful illustrations. The way this book’s characters are in relation to one another, at times following, or playing, or participating, or listening draws out an intimacy in their togetherness, and it’s in that intimacy that the reader is invited into this experience. Kevin reminds us all in this conversation that there are many different ways that people can be Native, and I think it’s fair to say that this author-illustrator pairing accomplishes that message beautifully. There is also wonderful and robust narrative back matter waiting for readers of any age to explore and expand their knowledge even further. In short, this book has a bounty of goodness to go around and I think you will find yourself quite comforted and cared for and brought into the story, allowing space for you, in turn to comfort and care for and bring closer those cultures and customs of our Indigenous brothers and sisters so that they may be honored and respected.


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Told in lively and powerful verse by debut author Kevin Noble Maillard, Fry Bread is an evocative depiction of a modern Native American family, vibrantly illustrated by Pura Belpre Award winner and Caldecott Honoree Juana Martinez-Neal.


Fry bread is food.

It is warm and delicious, piled high on a plate.


Fry bread is time.

It brings families together for meals and new memories.


Fry bread is nation.

It is shared by many, from coast to coast and beyond.


Fry bread is us.

It is a celebration of old and new, traditional and modern, similarity and difference.







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