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Maple Syrup from the Sugarhouse Review by Pam Havens

Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton
Albert Whitman & Company
250 South Northwest Highway, Suite 320
Park Ridge, Illinois 60068

Spring is that time of year when the earth begins to wake-up from a long winters nap, and those living in northern parts of the United States and Canada know well that sugaring season is upon them.  Maple Syrup from the Sugarhouse written by Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton, and produced by Albert Whitman & Company, is a wonderful picture book that introduces children to the process of maple sugaring.  This is a complete picture book with maple syrup facts located in the back of the book.  Each beautifully illustrated page depicts the history of a sugar house before modernization, and the day-to-day operations that were so important with tapping sugar maple trees.  This hardcover picture book is $16.99 and perfect for elementary age students.

We incorporated this picture book into our scheduled read aloud time, and then had the pleasure of discussing the in’s and out’s of how to exactly tap a maple tree long ago and currently.  With having lived in Vermont my students were quite familiar with sugar on snow, sugarhouses, boiling the syrup down, as well as how maple trees are tapped currently with metal lines connecting back to the sugarhouse.  It was exciting for us to read this picture book and reminisce of being back at a sugarhouse this time of year.  Maple syrup is a great topic for a unit study, as there are many aspects that could entail learning the history of how maple syrup came to be and the Native Americans who first discovered it.  Learning about maple syrup could include, but not limited to, countries and states that produce it, season of when to begin tapping the trees, locating the right dimension of tree, the process of boiling down the syrup, different grades of syrup, as well as the art to eating sugar on snow.  Our family has fully come to appreciate the pure taste of maple syrup and the process it takes to create a gallon of syrup.  And thanks to this book their interest in maple syrup was piqued with finding videos on how to tap a maple tree.  My second grade, early reader was able to read most of this book without help, however my independent fifth grade reader took less than ten minutes to complete this book.  Overall, this is a great picture book to assimilate into your student’s spring studies.

This picture book is complete in itself, yet it would have been great if the author would have listed a few websites in the facts section.  Finding great resources to accompany a book such as this is worth the time investigating.  Another great way the author could have engaged the reader is with a few simple recipes, which included maple syrup or sugar on snow.    

I highly recommend purchasing this picture book for children or students who love listening to well-written stories and looking at eye-appealing illustrations.  This book will surely become a favorite that is requested and read each spring season.  After reading this book who knows you may even find yourself taking a field trip to a nearby sugarhouse to see the full process of sugaring. Tis the season for all things maple!

-Product review by Pam Havens, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2018