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Shante Keys and the New Year's Peas

Shante Keys and the New Year's Peas

5.0 3
by Gail Piernas-Davenport, Marion Eldridge (Illustrator)

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Shanté Keys loves New Year's Day! But while Grandma fixed chitlins, baked ham, greens, and cornbread, she forgot the black-eyed peas! Oh no—it'll be bad luck without them! So Shanté sets out to borrow some from the neighbors.


Shanté Keys loves New Year's Day! But while Grandma fixed chitlins, baked ham, greens, and cornbread, she forgot the black-eyed peas! Oh no—it'll be bad luck without them! So Shanté sets out to borrow some from the neighbors.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Shanté Keys and her parents go to visit Grandma for a New Year’s feast, but Grandma has forgotten the black-eyed peas, a symbol of prosperity for the turn of the year. So Shanté is off to ask the neighbors if they have some. After a visit to Miss Lee (Chinese), Mr. MacGhee (Scottish), Señor Ortiz (Mexican), Hari (Indian Hindu), and finally Auntie Marie (?), she scores a bagful of chickpeas. The family chops onions, adds a dime and a bay leaf, and welcomes all the neighbors to join in the celebration of New Year’s with a feast of black-eyed peas. Endnotes expand on the foods of the holidays with details of various New Year traditions from China, Scotland, Spanish culture, and India mentioned in the text. Additional information about Austria, Germany, Greece, Japan, Korea, Switzerland, and Jewish culture are briefly mentioned. A recipe for Hoppin’ John, traditionally served with the American South’s traditional New Year’s Black Eye Peas is a full-page endplate. Teachers who are food-inclined (bless their hearts!) will welcome this unique title to the library collection. It offers many cooking possibilities for kids to participate in, perhaps a multicultural food festival celebrating New Year’s when school reconvenes (since we never go to school on New Years, right?). In her journey amongst the neighborhood’s diverse foodies, Shanté hears about Miss Lee’s “crisp golden dumplings,” Mr. MacGhee’s “haggis and cheese,” Señor Ortiz’s “grapes,” Hari’s “sweets,” all of which could be included in a food sampling that followed reading the book (although the haggis will probably not be much of a hit when the kids find out what it really IS!). Reviewer: Gwynne Spencer
School Library Journal

K-Gr 2
It's New Year's Day, and Shanté's Grandma is "weak in the knees" from cooking "chitlins, baked ham,/macaroni and cheese,/Greens and hot corn bread,/but no black-eyed peas!" If the family doesn't eat "cowpeas," it means a year of bad luck, so Shanté goes out into the neighborhood in search of "blackeyes." She visits a Chinese woman, a Scottish grocer, a Mexican restaurant owner, and a Hindu family. In turn, each neighbor explains his or her culture's differing New Year's practices with an oversimplification that leans toward ethnic stereotypes. The book tries to do too much, taking the focus off Shanté and her family. The illustrations, done in candylike colors, are unappealing. On the plus side, the lighthearted rhyme presents various cultural food customs associated with the holiday. A look at New Year's traditions around the world and a recipe for Hoppin' John are appended.
—Teresa PfeiferCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Shante's family has a New Year's tradition. The family has a feast that includes one special item: black-eyed peas. They believe eating the peas will bring them luck throughout the new year. Grandma discovers she has forgotten this crucial dish and sends Shante out to find some. As Shante travels from neighbor to neighbor, she learns the New Year's food traditions of those families, and even though they don't have the peas she needs, she invites them to dinner to try the ones she's sure she'll find. Written in rhyming couplets, the verse often falters annoyingly, making it difficult to read aloud without practice, but readers will find any number of new rhymes for the word "peas." (Chef Ortiz is from Belize, for instance.) Bright, colorful illustrations portray Shante's energy and determination to save her family tradition, but, of course, these seem to be miracle peas that don't need soaking overnight. Like Norah Dooley's Everybody Cooks Rice (1991), this is a simple way to introduce young children to other cultures and traditions. The recipe for Grandma Louise's Hoppin' John provides a fun activity for families. (afterword) (Picture book. 5-9)

Product Details

Whitman, Albert & Company
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.75(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.35(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Gail Piernas-Davenport has enjoyed writing since she was in grade school. She used to go in her basement and write crazy stories and novels. She lives in Illinois. Marion Eldridge is a graduate of the Boston Museum School and Tufts University. She has illustrated numerous books and has taught illustration at the New Hampshire Institute of Art. She lives in Massachusetts.

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Shante Keys and the New Year's Peas 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I work in a toddler room and most of my kids are 2 years of age. They loved to book. We talked about the pictures and the different food. We talked about helping and sharing with friend and family. There is even a page in the back of the book that gives your more information on other cultures.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure Kirkus Reviews read the same book I did. The rhyming is absolutely delightful, not annoying. Kirkus'sarcastic comment about these being 'magical peas that don't need soaking' doesn't even make sense-the author states in the book that these are not dried peas. Note to Kirkus: Please read the books before you review them. Anyway, this book is a real treat-I learned so much. Any child will delight in the quick, witty writing and whimsical, colorful illustrations. Besides being fun to read and enjoy, the book is jammed full of information with a recipe and facts about diverse cultures-you'll feel like you got 3 books for the price of one!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love the inquisitive, happy nature of Shante Keys and the positive nature of her interactions with her multicultural neighbors. In a country of neighborhoods in which many times all people look alike, it is refreshing to be presented with a neighborhood that reflects true diversity so that our children may know that such an environment can and does exist. To learn that people of all nationalities and races celebrate new beginnings with their families and friends with love and joy...is a great tradition to have in common and to share with one another.