Monday, November 14, 2016

Giving Thanks with Author Pat Brisson + Book Giveaway

Dear Friends,

Please welcome my dear friend Pat Brisson, whose short post reminds us all to be thankful for the Food We Eat! Pat is always an inspiration for me. Just seeing her smiling face makes me want to be kinder and more mindful of others.

Pat has generously donated an autographed copy of her book, The Food We Eat: from farm to table for the comment contest. For a chance to win, simply leave a comment about giving thanks.

Author Pat Brisson shares about the writing of her picture book: Before We Eat: from farm to table

I have long felt that Thanksgiving was the most spiritual of all American holidays because it’s not cluttered up with stuff but is all about getting together with family to share a meal. And give thanks for all our blessings. And although Before We Eat: from farm to table is not specifically about Thanksgiving, it’s an appropriate book to talk about in the Thanksgiving season because it’s about being mindful, when we sit down to share a meal with family, that a lot of people worked very hard to help us get food to our tables.

I grew up with the tradition of saying grace before meals and this book started out as a grace with the words Bless the one who did this and Bless the one who did that. My editor at Tilbury House, Audrey Maynard, asked if I would consider changing Bless to Thank. She thought it would give the book broader appeal. So I did, and it became a sort of secular grace – a moment of thankful awareness of, not only the workers in the fields, but also the ones packing the crates and checking weights and driving the produce to the stores and all the clerks who sell the food to us.

When Audrey said they were thinking of an illustrator who did woodblock prints to do the illustration. I said, “Oh, like Mary Azarian?” “That’s who we’ve sent it to," she told me. I was stunned. I LOVED Mary Azarian’s art and – be still my heart – she agreed to do it! Came out of retirement to do it! I was thrilled. Mary’s striking art takes my words to another level. Her prints are both strong and tender and offer so much for the youngest readers to explore on the page. If I never do another book (a strong possibility in this current difficult market) I will feel like I’m going out on a high note.

(Milk doesn't just appear in your refrigerator, nor do apples grow in the bowl on the kitchen counter.)

“A simple poem thanking the people who grow, transport, sell and prepare our food is transformed by Azarian’s bright woodcuts... A warm celebration of both small farms and the idea that it takes a village to feed a child. (Picture book. 2-6)” (Kirkus)

Illustration from Before We Eat
 “The  book is a thoughtful examination of where food comes from― that is before is gets to the grocery store.  …Pages show people engaged in every manner of food production: plowing, planting, harvesting, milking, egg gathering, packing and weighing crates, driving delivery trucks and cashiering at the grocery store.  It is a wonderfully inclusive and honest way to view food acquisition.” (Jennifer Prince - Children’s Book Review, Citizen-Times, Ashville NC)

Pat Brisson is the author of 20 books for young readers, including The Summer My Father Was Ten and Sometimes We Were Brave (both from Boyds Mills Press). A graduate of Rutgers University, she is a former elementary school teacher, school librarian, and public-library reference librarian. Pat lives in New Jersey with her husband. 

Artist Mary Azarian is the Caldecott-Medal winning illustrator of Snowflake Bentley, written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin (1999, Houghton Mifflin). She created the pictures for Before We Eat by first carving the pictures in wood (in reverse!) and then printing them with ink onto paper before adding the color with watercolor paints. She lives and creates her art on a hilltop farm in Vermont.

Author Pat Brisson and Artist Mary Azarian
To learn more about Pat and her books, check out her website:  
To learn more about the  publisher of Before We Eat, click on the link:

Thank you, dear Pat, for this thoughtful reminder to give thanks. Thank you, dear reader for leaving a comment about what you are thankful for. The winner will be announced on November 29. ~Clara


  1. I am thankful for the love of my family and dear friends who are there for me when I need support and encouragement, and to live, laugh, and love together!❤

  2. I would love to win this book and pass it along to my grandkids. Thanks for the opportunity!

    1. Thank you for stopping by to leave a comment, Carol. It would be wonderful to share this book with your grandkids. Your name is entered for a chance to win!

  3. I love Pat's beautiful book, and her talent for writing poetry. And I am grateful for Pat who is so creative in so many different ways. Congratulations Pat!

  4. Marvelous! The change from "bless" to "thank" is perfect. I love that your book honors so many people involved in the food production process. And yes, of course, the illustrations are beautiful also! I'd love to share this with my grands.

  5. I am thankful for my family, my faith, my friends, and the many blessings and gifts I have been given.

    Pat's book looks lovely and a reminder of what goes on to put food on our tables.

    Like Pat, I grew up in a family that said grace before meals, and my husband and I have continued that tradition with our grandchildren.

    Wishing a blessed thanksgiving to all!

  6. I am ever thankful for friends and family, but if I break down all the things I am thankful for, it always comes down to the science and medical folks. Without them and their breakthroughs in the health field over the years, I would have no life to enjoy the people I love, the food I eat, and the God-given world around me.

  7. I am especially thankful to have two beautiful little girls in my life, with whom to share my love of books.

  8. I'm grateful for this blog and all the wonderful authors it has introduced me to! :)

  9. Such a lovely book! I'm thankful for my daughters (I have three teenagers now!) Their enthusiasm and energy help keep me focused and moving forward :)

  10. I'm grateful for people who want a world filled with true equality.

  11. I'm thankful for my son who makes me see the world with different eyes. I already own and LOVE Pat's book, but if I'm the lucky winner, I plan to donate this copy to his classroom!

  12. What a great idea for a book! Sometimes it's so easy to forget about all the blessings around us, and how food doesn't just arrive at the supermarket - it takes a lot of work to get there. I am thankful for all that I have, especially my family.

  13. I am thankful for so many things. One of which is all you great authors and the books you write.

  14. I am thankful for family, friends and children's books.

  15. I'm very thankful for God, for family, for friends, and for living in a free country. But today, I'm especially thankful that my author website, that was down for 4 days, is finally running again. Since I'm busy promoting my first PB, having it down was NOT good timing.

  16. I love all of Pat's books, and loved hearing about how this one came to be, and loved seeing her smile. I'm with you: just looking at Pat makes me want to be a kinder person, too.

  17. One of my favorite books is Wanda's Roses. The way the little girl's faith unfolds is amazing. I could hardly contain my joy as I shared it with others. It's the only book Pat has written that I've read thus far but I'd love to read some of the others including this one. Congratulations Pat! I'd also like to add, that I am thankful for Jesus because He loves me and has given me a great life, beautiful family, a love for teaching and helping others and the ability to write.

  18. Thank you, Pat, and thank you each and everyone who stopped by to leave a comment of thanks-giving! I am thankful for all of you!