By Jessie Haas
Illustrated by Jos. A. Smith
Published by Greenwillow Books
Copyright © 1996
I was born in Northwestern Massachusetts, just south of the Vermont line. This is still very much near the heart of maple sugaring country. As a matter of fact we only lived a few miles from Gould’s Sugarhouse which was on route 2 also called the Mohawk Trail. Living in rural New England spoils a lad when it comes to maple syrup; no Mrs. Butterworth’s or Log Cabin for me. Though I no longer live in New England I am very fortunate to live in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania which is also a maple syrup producing area. It is because of my love of maple syrup that I read the children’s picture book “Sugaring.”
Early spring is sugaring season, and Nora is collecting sap with her Gramp. The sap itself tastes like sweet water. And they can’t wait to get it back to their sugar shack to make it into something even sweeter, maple syrup. Nora also helps her Gramp as he boils down the sap. When they finally have maple syrup Nora thinks that the horses should have some since they did all the hauling.
“Sugaring” is entertaining and informative look at the charming and old fashioned process of maple sugaring. It provides us with the simple details of how sap is collected and turned into maple syrup while at the same time telling the story of a girl who thinks that all workers, even horses, should be rewarded for their labor.
Of course, sadly, maple syrup is rarely collected with buckets, horses, and sleds anymore. Often they use tubing that is gravity fed down to the sugarhouse. And while wood is still used to heat the evaporators some producers use oil or other fossil fuels. If you are fortunate though you will still find an operation that keeps the old fashioned tradition of making maple syrup alive.
“Sugaring” is a great book to read with inquisitive children (ages 4-8) who want to know where maple syrup comes from. I plan on making its reading an addition to my own personal maple festival.