At gift-giving time, my coworker and sister-in-law Nikki has a mantra: “something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read.” I like it. It offers a limiting principle for those who might otherwise get lost in commercialism, and a jumping-off point for those of us who lack creativity! In the spirit of both, we offer you some ideas on books to give this year to the maple-syrup lover on your list!
Maple Books for Young Children
From modern how-to manuals for young kids to picture books about sugaring in the olden days, children’s literature on maple syrup making is prolific, varied, and fun!
Maple Trees by Marcia S. Freeman is a good, basic tree identification book. It delivers big, simple words in large font at one or two sentences per page and is illustrated by big, bright photographs. The information provided is nevertheless accurate and helpful; this is a great science text for a beginning reader. For more suggestions on science texts for young readers, see here.
Among our favorite fictional titles for young children are Sugar on Snow, Grandpa’s Sugar Bush, and The Big Tree. If these three don’t pique your interest, see here.
Sugar on Snow by Nan Parson Rossiter is a true-to-life story about two elementary-school-aged brothers helping their mother and father make maple syrup on a modern homestead. The story is simple and warm, and the illustrations of sugaring are bright and clean. Especially precious are the inset depictions of what woodland wildlife is up to in sugaring season.
Everyone will love At Grandpa’s Sugar Bush by Margaret Carney and Janet Wilson, a story about a modern backyard maple-syrup making operation run by a young boy and his grandfather. Beautiful, impressionistic pictures illustrate this sweetest-of-stories, wherein the grandfather teaches the grandson how to sugar, but also how to pause and appreciate the signs of spring. The country grandchild and grandparent alike will recognize themselves in this book.
The Big Tree by Bruce Hiscock is a great one for the budding (pun intended) history buff! This is the story of the life of one special maple tree that is “born” before the American Revolutionary War and reaches maturity in the present day. The illustrations are charming and informative and help the book teach gently about the many uses of a maple tree, important historical events and basic tree biology. A great read.
Maple Books for Older Children
Our pick for best maple book for older children goes to Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Eggerson Sorenson. This award winning title is a book about a war veteran and his family who find solace and each other in their Pennsylvania sugar bush.
Then, of course, there is the timeless classic Little House in the Big Woods, the first book in the Little House series. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s account of life on the American frontier starts in the woods in Wisconsin, where the extended Ingalls family sustains and sweetens life by making maple sugar together.
Maple Books for Adults
We’ve previously reviewed several titles on maple history for adult readers: The Maple Sugar Book, which covers everything from the earliest history of maple syrup making to mid-century, practical how-tos, The Maple King for a historical account of how maple became big business, and Maple Sugarin’ in Vermont, a state classic.
We can also now recommend a more practically-leaning title: Amateur Sugar Maker by Noel Perrin. Also a classic, it’s a must-read for the aspiring or actual backyard maple syrup maker.
If you are looking for a cookbook, try Maple: 100 Sweet and Savory Recipes Featuring Pure Maple Syrup by Katie Webster. Worth its price for the photographs alone, this title has everything from breakfast to dinner to cocktails and desserts and has something for every palate, regardless of age or dietary preferences.
We hope this was helpful! And, however you choose to gift this year, that you and yours have a safe, happy and healthy holiday season.