The Local Food Report: Nikki McClure

We don't talk enough about books around here. So today, I'd like to make a recommendation. It's a kids book:

It's the first book I bought for the baby, way back in May. It's about a little boy and his mother shopping the farmers' market—based on the experience of author Nikki McClure and her son at their farmers' market in Olympia, Washington. Everyone in the book is real—Nikki gives their real names and describes how their real growing processes work, and in the illustrations, she even shows their real tattoos.

I met Nikki this spring, when she was giving a reading at the Falmouth Farmers' Market. I asked her what inspired her to write the book, and she said mostly, she wanted to find out about what was going into the food she was buying each week. That, and she wanted to write a book that would help kids put words grown-ups were tossing around all the time—things like local and organic—into every day, normal kid terms. So she started talking with people like Michael, the apple vendor, and Steve, who sells smoked salmon, and asking them about the work they did. She learned some pretty cool stuff.

I don't want to give too much away, because it really is a good read, but I did want to show you some of the illustrations.

Nikki is actually best known for her artwork. She makes her illustrations using an X-acto knife—all those black segments up there are a single piece of paper. If she makes a mistake, she has to either work it into the picture, or start all over. Then later, she scans it and fills in some bits with color on the computer.

She says she likes to use color sparingly, so that when you see it, you know it's important.

If you have a chance, pick up a copy of the book, or head to the library and check it out. It's a kid book, but it's also the kind of book you can learn a lot from as an adult.


artfoodsoul said...

i love nikki's art -- have been coveting one of her calendars for years...

Anonymous said...

It's wonderful to see Nikki's work highlighted here, Elspeth! I've seen this book, and it is lovely -- both illustrations and text. Thank you for the occasional foray into great books here on your blog. ~A Maine Reader


you are right..it truly is a book for kids AND adults....i would love one of her original prints in my apartment some day... another good book for Sally's collection is "in the garden" by leslie bockol... it isn't as intricate and beautiful as nikki's...but it is a sweet book nonetheless.. ..it's available at the coffee obsession in woods hole.

Sue/the view from great island said...

This book looks fascinating, I'm going to check it out. Her artwork is stunning.

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