Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Salt... And its Story

I picked up Mark Kurlansky's children's book The Story of Salt on the bargain shelves at The Boulder Bookstore.  It's the children's version of his bestseller Salt: A World History.  Why did I pick it up?  There was something intriguing about the illustrations by S. D. Schindler.  They caught my eye (he's the illustrator of Three Pebbles and a Song, Is This a House for Hermit Crab, Olive the Other Reindeer, Every Living Thing).  Schindler's illustrations are always exquisite, varied, and inviting.
     This book takes us through salt's important role in history.  Salt, one of the most common substances on earth, has often taken on a critical role--being traded, horded, and revered.  We take salt for granted (My big questions... Should I buy ionized or not?  Sea salt?  Kosher?), tossing it over our shoulders after a spill, but throughout history it's been as precious as gold in some cultures.  In the text, it says... Salt, or NaCl, as is it know chemically--has been the object of wars and revolutions!  One of my favorite pages in the book shows Gandi making salt in defiance of British law.
     This is a complicated text.  It's a great piece of nonfiction written in a narrative mode.  I think that students will enjoy learning a bit about something they, too, take for granted.  Salt and its amazing history in our past.  The last line... But the next time you pick up a saltshaker, remember that not only do you need salt to live, you are holding rocks that shaped the history of the world! says a lot.  
     I love when I find a crystal while perusing the shelves of the bargain books!

By the way, Mark Kurlansky has written a great book about Hank Greenberg for adults.  One of his essays "Where Champions Begin" appeared in Parade Magazine in 2007.  His writing is intriguing, sometimes a bit controversial, but always interesting.

1 comment:

  1. I love using this book for research writing. The layout is interesting. I wish he would do COD for kids too. Hope CSAP is going well.