PPBF – My Day with the Panye

The setting of today’s Perfect Picture Book has sadly been in the news quite a bit lately. But I think this picture book will brighten your day and show the strength and resilience of the Haitian people.

Title: My Day with the Panye

Written By: Tami Charles

Illustrated By: Sara Palacios

Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press/2021

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Haiti, multicultural, childhood milestones, market, Caribbean

Opening:

In the hills of Port-au-Prince, Manman’s voice, sweet like mango, sings to the sky.

“Fallon,” she calls. “Would you like to go to market with me?”

“Yes!” I say.

My little sister, Naima, cries, “Me too!”

“Another time, pitit. Your day will come, but today it’s Fallon’s turn.”

Brief Synopsis: Young Fallon yearns to carry the market basket, the panye, on her head as her mother and the other women in the family do.

Links to Resources:

  • Try carrying an empty basket or a book on your head. Is it easier to carry the basket when it’s empty or full? Is it easier or more difficult to carry it as you walk along a flat sidewalk? A grassy hill? A rocky path?
  • Learn about Haiti;
  • What activity or task that older siblings or your parents do that you look forward to accomplishing when you get older? Draw a picture of you performing this task or activity;
  • Visit a local farmer’s market and try these fun activities while there;
  • Find more activities in the Teachers Guide.

Why I Like this Book:

Sprinkled with Haitian vocabulary and featuring colorful illustrations, My Day with the Panye features a young girl, Fallon, who tries to emulate her Manman and carry the panye to the market. Like a child’s first bike ride or first day of school, this is a story about a childhood milestone. But this milestone may not be familiar to most children. Carrying a basket on one’s head probably doesn’t even appeal to many children, or even adults. But Charles’ depiction of this task, its importance, its dignity, and the joy and love it shows for the entire family, will quickly dispel any negative thoughts about it.

From the moment I saw the rhyming title and the vibrant cover, I knew this would be a picture book filled with joy. I loved the many similes, such as “laughter louder than a rooster’s crow”, “walking like they have gold in their shoes”, and “heart sinks like a shooting star.” And who can resist grinning at the image of Manman’s smile that is “banana-wide”? Charles’ descriptive language is so much fun to read and reread.

I also love the emphasis on tradition that is evident in the story. A repeated phrase, “little by little the bird builds its nest. Not everything is learned fast”, is, the readers learn, one that has been passed down from Manman’s mother. I also think it’s a very child-friendly saying, as, I think, many children are familiar with the steps a bird must undertake to build a nest for its family.

My Day with the Panye will be a welcome addition to home and school bookshelves.

A Note about Craft:

In an Author’s Note, Charles informs readers that this picture book is set in Haiti, her husband’s homeland, and explores a Haitian tradition of women carrying a market basket on their heads. As Charles notes, this tradition dates back to “ancient times” and is evident in many other parts of the world. But because of her familiarity with Haiti, Charles sets this story on this beautiful island where “pride, love, and joy still shine through” despite the many difficulties that have beset Haiti and its people.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

2 responses to “PPBF – My Day with the Panye

  1. I love Tami Charles’s vibrant books. Haiti is such a colorful place, I can only imagine how love the illustrations must be. So much turmoil there right now. My daughter went on two medical mission trips there a decade ago. She fell in love with the country. Thank you for sharing ‘My Day with Panye.”

  2. I love Tami Charles’ books, too. I attended a session she taught at a local SCWBI conference – she’s a lovely person and great teacher.

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