In Kevin Noble Maillard’s Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story, a family gathers to prepare a traditional Native American fry bread meal. For each step—mixing, frying and waiting—the bread represents an important aspect of their heritage. They may be making fry bread, but what they are truly creating is family, tradition and abiding pride in both.
Deftly illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal, every page of Fry Bread is imbued with Native American history and culture. Echoes of ancient cave art, symbolic tattoos, handmade baskets and ceremonial designs tell a story of tradition. Family names (written by the illustrator’s children) and an image of the author’s aunt (who taught him to make fry bread) give Fry Bread an incredibly personal, cherished feel. Soft and subdued, Fry Bread is warm, inviting and uplifting.
Although Fry Bread’s narrative stands on its own, its message continues in a comprehensive author’s note. Over several pages, Maillard details the origins of fry bread as well as the complicated and often overlooked history of Native Americans in the United States. Maillard, who is an enrolled citizen of the Seminole Nation, also raises current issues, including health and medical care, racial diversity within today’s Native communities and the continuing struggle for recognition. With a list of additional references and resources, Fry Bread’s backmatter serves as an accessible resource tucked inside a children’s picture book.
Rich with smells and sounds, Fry Bread radiates with Native American pride, the sharing of traditions and the love of family.