Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story

Cover of Fry Bread

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  • PUBLISHER: Roaring Brook Press
  • RELEASE DATE: October 22, 2019
  • AUTHOR: Kevin Noble Maillard
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Juana Martinez-Neal
  • AGE LEVEL: 3-6, 48 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-626-72746-5

Told in lively and powerful verse by debut author Kevin Noble Maillard, Fry Bread is an evocative depiction of a modern Native American family, vibrantly illustrated by Pura Belpré Award winner and Caldecott Honoreé Juana Martinez-Neal.

Fry bread is food.
It is warm and delicious, piled high on a plate.

Fry bread is time.
It brings families together for meals and new memories.

Fry bread is nation.
It is shared by many, from coast to coast and beyond.

Fry bread is us.
It is a celebration of old and new, traditional and modern, similarity and difference.


Worth Mentioning

★ 2020 Robert F. Sibert Medal Award

★ 2020 AIYLA Picture Book Honor

★ 2020 Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book

★ 2020 NCTE Charlotte Huck Award – Recommended Book

★ 2020 NCTE Notable Books & Verse Novels

★ 2020 ALA Notable Children’s Books

★ 2020 WSRA – Picture This! 2020

★ 2020 ILA – Notable Books for a Global Society

★ 2020 Bank Street College of Education – Best Children’s Books of the Year

★ 2020 NCTE – Notable Poetry List

★ 2020-2021 Star of the North Minnesota Youth Reading Award Nominee

★ Publishers Weekly – Best Books 2019

★ SLJ – Best Picture Books 2019

★ Kirkus – Best Picture Books of 2019

★ Booklist – Editors’ Choice Books for Youth 2019

★ Amazon – Best Kids Books of 2019

★ Shelf Awareness – Best Children’s & Teen Books of 2019

★ Chicago Public Library – Best of the Best Books 2019

★ NPR – Favorite Books of 2019

★ Goodreads – Choice Awards Semifinalist 2019

★ 2019 Society of Illustrators Original Art Selection

★ Amazon – Editor’s Pick Ages 3-5 for October 2019




★ With buoyant, heartfelt illustrations that show the diversity in Native America, the book tells the story of a post-colonial food, a shared tradition across the North American continent (…) This is about more than food, referencing cultural issues such as the history of displacement, starvation, and the struggle to survive, albeit in subtle ways appropriate for young children. —Starred review


★ Maillard and Martinez-Neal bring depth, detail, and whimsy to this Native American food story, with text and illustrations depicting the diversity of indigenous peoples, the role of continuity between generations, and the adaptation over time of people, place, and tradition (…) Martinez-Neal’s illustrations are meant to be relished, lingered over (…) A particularly striking spread depicts a wall etched with the names of hundreds of Native American nations, explicitly countering perceptions about the extinction or invisibility of indigenous peoples. —Starred review

Publishers Weekly:

★ In blues and browns with bright highlights, Martinez-Neal’s wispy art features a diverse group of six children (…) learning about each statement (…) An author’s note offers vital, detailed context about this varied dish and its complex history. —Starred review

School Library Journal:

★ A first purchase for all libraries (…) This warm and charming book shows and affirms Native lives. —Starred review


★ Deftly illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal, every page of Fry Bread is imbued with Native American history and culture (…) an incredibly personal, cherished feel. Soft and subdued, Fry Bread is warm, inviting and uplifting (…) Fry Bread radiates with Native American pride, the sharing of traditions and the love of family. —Starred review

Shelf Awareness:

★ While “Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story” is recommended for audiences ages three to six, it’s undoubtedly a book that will last on shelves well into readers’ double digits. (…) Glorious double-page spreads introduced by pithy, resonating phrases define the Native American staple (…) Pura Belpré-awarded illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal’s (“Alma and How She Got Her Name”) artistry revels in the faces.

The New York Times Book Review:.

A wonderful and sweet book [that] takes a staple food of many tribes across the country and uses it to think about family, history, memory and community. Maillard and Martinez-Neal capture the dizzying diversity of Native American life. And theirs is one of the few efforts that suggests, as a matter of fact, that Native people come in all hues (…) Lovely stuff.


More Reviews


Quotes about Fry Bread

There’s a lot inside the covers of Fry Bread! What you find when you turn the pages is why I highly recommend it (…) Exquisite. And–I think–groundbreakingDr. Debbie Reese, AICL

Buy it because the story is good, but also, it’s worth the purchase just for the endpapers & backmatter alone. You’ll want to photocopy the backmatter info & highlight away for use when teaching history.Jillian Heise, Librarian #classroombookaday

It’s a fiction picture book that can be read to Kindergarteners but has back matter that can be enjoyable through middle School. It’s almost a new format. Accessible and informative and entertaining at many levels.Josh Funk, author


News about Fry Bread



Book Extras

ADL Educator Discussion Guide Anti Defamation League – Educator Discussion Guide
Guide created by Anti Defamation League. Direct download from ADL’s site

ADL Parent/Family Discussion Guide Anti Defamation League – Parent/Family Discussion Guide
Guide created by Anti Defamation League. Direct download from ADL’s site

SLJ A Love Letter to Indigenous Nations and Communities School Library Journal – A Love Letter to Indigenous Nations and Communities
Teaching Ideas for Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story. Direct link to SLJ’s site


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