I don’t have a big sweet tooth. I almost always gravitate toward a salty snack rather than a sweet one. The chocolate bars that state they contain 2.5 servings can last me for at least 8. However, there are two sweet treats that I lose willpower with – Polish cows (see illustration below) and pralines. So, it was fun and informative to read Praline Lady by Kirstie Myvett and Illustrated by Kamekp Madrere (Pelican Publishing 2020).
Praline Lady is a look into the life of a woman who sells pralines in New Orleans in the nineteenth century. Free women of color were able to earn a living selling goods such as flowers, fruits and pralines in the French Quarter. The author’s note states that it was possible for enslaved women to earn their freedom by selling pralines or other homemade goods. It was refreshing to read a snippet of little-known history – of female entrepreneurship.
Myvett’s text and Madrere’s watercolor illustrations marry well to show readers a hard-working woman in the midst of a bustling city. There are new words to learn, which are defined on the back matter page. It’s a sweet story (pun intended) that introduces young readers to a culture and time period that might be unfamiliar to them. I firmly believe exposure to other cultures and travel are two activities that help to create kind and tolerant adult citizens. Reading books together is such an easy and lovely way to start.
Young readers might have some questions about the history – there is a paragraph in the back explaining briefly about Praline Ladies – and I love when books can start conversations. Of course, one question that might be asked is where to get pralines now or how to make them. In case that question is asked, I’ve included a link to a recipe. It also gives a brief nod to praline’s original French version that included almonds and hazelnuts. I am so glad for the New Orleans adaptation of pecans!
I hope you enjoy Praline Lady as much as I have, whether you’ve a sweet tooth or a sweet spot for good books.
Polish Cows as I always called them, were a favorite treat in my Christmas stocking. I hate to admit it, but as a child I could eat a whole pound in a day. Now they are an even rarer treat that my sister can get me in Pittsburgh. I am proud to say I can make the pound last a month. On a trip to Poland a few years ago, I searched every grocery we passed and never found them. Good for my waistline; sad for my sense of nostalgia.