This week, 4th and 5th grade readers and their families gathered in the library to celebrate and discuss Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano. This sweet and spicy story is all about family, tradition, and the way baking and sharing food is a way of showing the people you love just how much you care about them! Here is the summary of the novel, from Harper Colins Publishers:
Leonora Logroño’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.
Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration—but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas—witches of Mexican ancestry—who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.
Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business—even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.
And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?
Family Book Club participants shared the novel at home at their own pace, and then gathered as a group to discuss, celebrate, and learn from one another. And because Love Sugar Magic is all about family and tradition, we invited families to participate in a potluck dinner, bringing a dish that is special to their family to share with the group. (Here was our announcement, with all the details.) As families arrived, the library filled with amazing smells, and soon our buffet was so big it spread to the top of multiple shelves and tables. We had every course covered, from salad to dessert, with so much food to share!
Before we could eat, we started with some interactive activities to get break the ice and get us moving. Señora Roth shared information about el Dia de los Muertos, and families got to decorate their own paper calaveras (sugar skulls). Parents were especially interested to learn about how el Dia de los Muertos changed with colonization and the intermingling of cultures. Check out the Dia de los Muertos information sheet that Señora Roth made for us to learn as we decorated our calaveras:
Next, we broke into small groups to talk about Love Sugar Magic, the Legroño family, and Leo’s magical mishaps. We loved chatting about the book, but with all that delicious food nearby, it was hard to focus over our grumbling stomachs! Then it was finally time to gather around the buffet and share information about our dishes and what made them so special. This part of the night felt magical, as readers and their loved ones told stories about family traditions, recipes passed down from generation to generation, and foods that reminded them of people and places that they loved.
Our buffet included pupusas, chili, apple pie, Matter Paneer, Brunswick Stew, spinach artichoke dip, quesadillas, German chocolate brownies, 红烧排骨 (Braised Short Ribs in Brown Sauce), Roots and Leaves salad, banana pudding, Irish Soda Bread, pumpkin bread, Puran Poli, bread pudding, and more… and Señora Roth even brought a bread similar to Pan de Muerto from a local bakery! It’s always special to take the time to sit and share a meal together, but the warmth in the room as we enjoyed each other’s recipes and shared family traditions was something I’ll remember for a long time. I loved learning more about my readers and their families, and so appreciated the time and effort that families gave to make this event so wonderful.
Thank you to all of the families that participated in Family Book Club: Love Sugar Magic! See more photos of the event here. Thank you for such a wonderful and delicious night of sharing your family’s special traditions with us. Check the library in the next few weeks for a special copy of the Love Sugar Magic Family Recipe Book, which will be available for checkout. It will include lots of magical recipes – but hopefully none quite as disastrous as Leo’s!