Mama Panya’s Pancakes: May Book of the Month

My oldest daughter recently had a tantrum. An EPIC tantrum. The kind that happens about once a year at our house, and included kicking chairs and doors, throwing toys, and lots of yelling and crying. I was startled. Then perplexed. And then simply downright angry at this unusual display from our usually cheerful and easy-going daughter. I kept my cool, mostly ignoring her outburst, and alternately asking her to take a time out in her room to calm down. She did eventually tromp to her room with a slam of the door, leaving me fuming in the kitchen. My three-year old had been silently sitting on the counter during our interaction, adding ingredients to a bowl of bread dough. After the door slammed, she remarked with wide eyes, “Wow-ee, Mom. She is mad at you! Yi-yi-yi!”

“Yeah. It sure seems like she’s having a rough day, doesn’t it?” I mumbled while kneading furiously.

“Poor thing. You should help her or somepin’. She probably needs a hug.” I responded with a nod, digesting the suggestion slowly and hoping it would work its way through my frustration.

An hour later, my oldest daughter is stepping out of the shower and calling for a towel. I’m up to my elbows in bread dough, now wrestling it into loaf pans. I say to my three-year old, “Can you get Emma a towel from the hall closet? Any towel will do.” She scampers up the stairs, pulls down a towel and hands it through the bathroom door with a cheery, “Here you go, Emma!” Silence from the other side. “Emma! Here’s your towel! I got it for you!” A hand reaches out to snatch the towel with an “Alright! I got it!” and then is quickly followed with a blast of irritation: “Aaargh! This is the wrong towel!”

“Hey, how about a thank you?” I call, with obvious irritability, and an incoherent “Thanks” wafts through the door. My three-year old beams benevolently at me as she marches down the stairs, replying, “Any pleasure, Emma! Any pleasure.” And so it is: I often find my children are several steps ahead of me, in compassion, in patience, in thoughtfulness and in life.

So I couldn’t help but smile while reading through the opening lines of this month’s featured book, Mama Panya’s Pancakes, by Mary and Rich Chamberlain, illustrated by Julia Cairns: “Surprise! I’m one step ahead of you, Mama!” Meet Adika, a young boy from Kenya, who generously invites all those he meets to a dinner of pancakes. His mother, nervously fingering the two small coins in her pocket, becomes more and more anxious with each new invitation, worried about how she will manage to stretch her meager cup of flour. But Mama and readers alike soon discover that Adika’s kindness will not go unrewarded. A beautiful folkloric tale illustrated with vibrant watercolors, Mama Panya’s Pancakes is a great read for the 6- to 8-year old crowd, but is also a hit with little readers due to its easy-to-follow plotline. A comprehensive appendix follows the tale, including a Kiswahili pronunciation guide, facts about local animals, and even a recipe for Mama’s spicy pancakes!

Log in today and celebrate Mother’s Day by enjoying Mama Panya’s Pancakes with your sweet readers, and make a mother’s day by surprising her with breakfast (perhaps some spicy pancakes?) in bed! A special thank you to Barefoot Books for providing May’s Book of the Month.

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