Sasha & Sheila: B, C and DILL
by Suzette Smith

"So many thoughts and questions ran through Sasha’s mind as they travelled to their new home."

Sasha has always been a country girl and loves life on the farm. When she learns she is moving to the city, she is nervous and scared. Her new neighbor, Sheila, helps her unpack. Sasha shares a story about the family pan they are unpacking. The girls bond over a love of food and cooking, and this shared interest helps their friendship grow. Sasha teaches Sheila how to ferment food, and Sheila is surprised at how good fermented food tastes and that it quiets her cravings for sweets. Sheila wants to make some to give to her diabetic mother. The girls do so, and it helps her mother lower the amount of medicine she needs to take to combat her diabetes.

Smith’s informative picture book shows that friendship can be built on just about anything: in this case, food and food preparation. The bond the girls share feels genuine, and the desire to make fermented food for Sheila’s mother feels like a natural extension of their actions rather than a device to keep the plot moving. Although the illustrations occasionally appear a little off, like when Sasha’s face is seen in profile and is too blank, they are generally drawn with fine lines which depict the story realistically and are reminiscent of illustrations found in some versions of Charlotte’s Web. Additionally, the tension in the story only comes from the move to the city and is resolved early. Otherwise, the story gets the message about health and the value of fermented food across without being too heavy-handed. The result is a unique and educational children’s book.

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