A curry for Murray by Kate Hunter
Ill. by Lucia Masciullo. UQP, 2015. ISBN 9780702253546
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Community, Food, Cooking, Neighbours. When next door neighbour, Murray announces that his wife has gone into hospital, Molly decides she will cook a curry for him. When he tells a neighbour about the lovely curry, Mrs Gregg with her bad cold asked Molly for a meal, and she cooks her some eggs. Next Sam Moloney comes with a tooth ache wanting some soft food, so Molly cooks him spinach macaroni. On it goes through the streets and wider community, until a prince rolls in with his helicopter, and Molly makes him savoury mince. Each plate of food rhymes with the person requesting the food, and several lines are repeated, making this a wonderful treat for readers. Not only do they learn about rhyme, but also repeated text, prediction and food names. And the illustrations add to the fun. Each double page sets the scene of the person asking for food and the reason, while the next page shows the food that Molly cooks, with a picture of the ingredients and equipment needed to make up that dish. Masciullo wanted her paintings to look like the images in a food magazine, so spent a lot of time making them look appetising, and she succeeds. Children will want to cook the food shown and with the ingredients shown this will be an easy task at home or in the classroom. Masciullo's naive style gives the readers lots to look at one each page and the food shown will endear them even more to this charming story about neighbours, community and sharing.
Hunter developed this story when her neighbour's wife went into hospital and her daughter suggested making a 'curry for Murray'. From there she developed the idea with her family having fun making up the rhymes with various dishes, something which could be done in class as an extension after reading this book. Masciullo has also illustrated two of my favourite picture books, Sonya Hartnett's The boy and the toy, and Come down, cat.