Title: The Thank You Dish
Written and Illustrated by Trace Balla
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
RRP: $19.99 (Hb)

As Grace and her mother sit down to eat their dinner, Mama thanks the rain, soil and sunshine. Grace then thanks the many and varied creatures and people who have helped her have the meal she is eating, from the kangaroos, for not eating the carrots, to the friends they have made who have shared their own produce. Even the road workers get a thank you for fixing the path so they can ride their bikes to a friend’s food stall.

This is an endearing book of gratitude and endless connections. The value of knowing where their food comes from, while not being explicit, is an important message throughout the book. The small, square format will make for a perfect lap read. Earthy colours have been used in the illustrations. There is a lot of extra detail and features in the illustrations, adding to the verbal text. The verbal text is well worked and its repetitive nature is predictable, providing an extra layer of comfort to this read.

This is really a lovely picture book. It shows the importance of caring about what we eat, knowing the community in which we live and eating locally. Recommended for preschool ages and lower primary grades. This would be perfect as part of a food or gardening unit of study.

Activities

  • Have the preschool or young school age children record what they eat one night. They can draw their plate of food, or make a written list. Research as a group where some of the food is from.
  • Invite a local market gardener to talk to the children about their job of growing food and selling at the market.
  • Make a small garden and grow some vegetables. Look at the life cycle of plants grown.
  • Mama thanks the rain, soil and sunshine. What role do these play in growing food? Perform simple experiments, such as celery in a glass of coloured water, growing seed in damp cotton wool with some in a cupboard without light, others on a windowsill. These can be done in the home or at school.
  • Discuss the importance of saying thank you.
  • Research different ways of saying thank you in various languages. They could be languages the children speak at home if applicable, languages of grandparents, or from countries the children have heard of. Listen to how ‘thank you’ is said in these languages and look at the written form.

Many thanks to Allen & Unwin for supplying this book for review.

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