The Butter Man

by Elizabeth Alalou, Ali Alalou, and Julie Klear Essakalli

Too hungry to wait patiently for the couscous dinner to cook, Nora moans to her Baba... read more

Too hungry to wait patiently for the couscous dinner to cook, Nora moans to her Baba that she’s “staaarving!” Taking Nora on his knee, Baba shares the story of the butter man from his own childhood in Morocco. After a season of drought and poor harvest, food became scarce in his home, and Ali’s father left to look for work across the mountains. Soon bread was the only thing left to eat, and the piece his mother gave him each day was smaller and harder than the piece on the day before. In an effort to distract Ali from his hunger, his mother suggested that he go outside and wait for the butter man. If the butter man passed by, Ali could ask for a bit of butter to spread on his bread. The butter man didn’t pass by on that day, or any of the following days, but Ali was occupied by watching the villagers on the road, “forgetting for a while the gnawing feeling in [his] stomach.” Finally, one of the travelers on the road was his own father, returning from across the mountains and carrying vegetables and a piece of meat. Folk-art paintings show Nora and her Baba in their contemporary kitchen at the story’s opening and conclusion, and depict Ali and his parents in their Moroccan village. An author’s note and glossary provide additional information about life in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Highly Commended, 2009 Charlotte Zolotow Award (Ages 5–9)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2009

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