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The Butter Man

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  140 ratings  ·  48 reviews
As young Nora waits impatiently for her mother to come home from work and for her father to serve the long-simmering couscous that smells so delicious, her father tells her about his childhood in Morocco. During a famine, when Nora's grandfather had to travel far to find work and bring food for the family, her father learned the valuable life lessons of patience, persevera ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published February 1st 2008 by Charlesbridge Publishing (first published January 1st 2008)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  140 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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Dec 01, 2016 rated it liked it
While waiting for her father to finish cooking dinner, Nora complains that she's "starving," as all kids do when they're really hungry. The father takes the opportunity to tell her about a time in his childhood in Morocco when he really didn't have enough food and how his mother would send him out to wait for the butter man so as to distract him from their not having enough bread.

This is a clever and gentle way to introduce kids not only to another culture (and Essakalli dives right into it, so
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book with the story about a different culture and the hardships they overcome. When Baba takes too long to cook the couscous, Nora becomes very impatient until her baba tells her a story about when he was a little boy and they had a drought one year in Morocco. There was too little water for the wheat to grow. There was very little wheat and everyone was hungry. His babalou had to leave to find a job and buy food for his family, but while waiting the long weeks for him to r ...more
The Butter Man is a story about a young girl waiting for her mom to get home so they can have dinner. Her dad is cooking and she talks about how she is starving. Her dad then goes into a story about when he was a child and what starving actually was like in Morocco. Each day he would have less and less bread as he waited for the "butter man", and would eat the bread because he was so hungry even though the "butter man" hadn't come yet. Eventually he has next to nothing as he waits,but then his f ...more
Jun 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Illustrator: Julie Klear Essakalli
Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing
Year: 2008
Interest Level: 2-4
Reading Level: 3-4

This book is a 2009 MIDDLE EAST BOOK AWARD RECIPIENT for picture books. This book is about a girl listening to her father tell the story about when he was little and living in Morocco during a famine.

There are so many ways this book could be integrated across the curriculum. In terms of modeling reading strategies and skills, this book lends itself to teaching author's message and
Jul 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Mouth-watering memories of fresh bread and butter and the crawling gnawing of famine's lack make a father's reflection on childhood hunger food for thought about patience, gratitude and luck.

You can listen in on our chat about this book on our Just One More Book! Children's Book Podcast.
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-school
While waiting for the couscous to be ready and mother to be home, a father (Baba)tells his daughter the story of hard times one year in Moracco. Folk art style illustrations. Author's note tells of life today in Moracco.
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: diversity
Nora, the main child, is waiting all morning for her father to cook his special dish called couscous. Nora starts getting impatient and very hungry waiting for the food, so her father begins telling her a story about when he was a little boy. His family didn't have a lot food when he was younger, so his father would gather ingredients to make bread and butter. Once his father sold the cow, he had to go off across the mountains to find work. Nora's father was always hungry. Ali's mother told him ...more
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Summary: A young child is very hungry and waits while her father makes dinner. While waiting, he tells the story of growing up in Morocco during the time of great famine. Color illustrations fill each page in a two-dimensional folk-art kind of way.

What I liked: Great story about how a parent can relate when times were hard, and what they had to go through, and how to learn to appreciate when times are good and bellies can be filled! I also love the author's long notes and a glossary of Berber wo
Jensine Foley
This is a great book about diversity. Nora grows impatient when her father is not done cooking dinner. Her father tells her a story about how when he was a young child and there was a drought and not much food for anyone to eat. They relied on farming, but the plants were not growing due to no rain falling. His mother would give him pieces of bread that were the size of his palm and would tell him to wait for the butter man to come. He would always grow impatient and eat the bread before the but ...more
Luisa Knight
Here's a story that takes place in a little village in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. As the rain falls less and less, a family hits dire times and must make their food stretch. The father leaves for another town to find work so he can bring back food and the boy finds a way to cope with hunger.

Ages: 5 - 9

#geography #africa #morocco

**Like my reviews? I also have hundreds of detailed reports that I offer too. These reports give a complete break-down of everything in the book, so you'll know
Suzanne Koziol
While Nora is eagerly waiting for her mother to come home so they can all eat together. While they're waiting her dad tells the story of his childhood in Morocco and waiting for the butter man to come. This book teaches people that life isn't always fair for some people and others may have it harder than you. I really enjoyed the illustrations on top of the lesson in this book.
Janine Darragh
In this picture book, Baba tells his granddaughter about his childhood in Morocco. I liked how in the back of the book it tells about the native people of North Africa that are depicted in the story.
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
This book was interesting and not what I expected it to be about.
Heidi Kuipers
Sep 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Beautiful story and illustrations, also great to introduce Moroccan culture
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent!! Perfect for describing how families in many other countries don’t have much food.
Feb 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-eastern
Published: 2008, Charlesbridge Publishing
Age: 4-8
Every Saturday, Nora’s Moroccan father (Baba) makes a big couscous dinner in a special pot he brought to America from his homeland. Nora is really hungry but her father doesn’t want her to eat and spoil her appetite. As she begs her baba for a snack, he tells her a story of when he was young and poor in Morocco. There was a famine one year and his father had to go across the mountains for work to buy food. He (Ali) and his mother (mahalou) were le
Cheiree Domet
Text to self reflection: When reading "The Butter Man" I had thoughts of going to my grandma's house. When I'd visit her she'd always make her homemade spaghetti and meatballs. I remember the smell as we walked into the house. My stomach would instantly start rumbling and I'd want to eat right away. Grandma would always tell us we'd have to wait. Unlike the book however, Grandma would give us a piece of Italian bread from Orsi's Italian Bakery to dip into the simmering zugu (sauce). To this day ...more
Susen Saeed
Apr 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: text-set
Nora is waiting impatiently as her father is preparing dinner. To help keep her mind off her hunger, her father tells her the story of when he was a little boy and there was a famine in Morocco. His father was forced to go looking for food and Nora’s father,Ali, was left with his mother and was very hungry. The bread was slowly finishing and her father could not wait any longer for food. Ali’s mother had told him to wait outside for the Butter man to give him the sweet butter he could not wait a ...more
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a story told by a father to his daughter, about his childhood living in Tamazirt. His father had to leave for work while him and his mother rationed bread. One day his mother tells him to go wait for the butter man, before he eats his bread. But as the bread gets smaller, he never saves it until one day his father returns.
I just thought this was a interesting story, and I liked how it was set up.
At first, I didn't know if the pictures were very accurate, because they looked white washed
Feb 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
I thought this story was pretty good. The story is about a young girl who listens to a story from her father about the difficulty of growing up in Morocco. When they had a drought, there wasn't much to eat because his family depended on the crops they grew. His mother has very little bread to give him, but told him to save it and ask the butter man to give him a little butter for his bread. He did so everyday, which would help him forget about his hunger pains. However, he was not patient enough ...more
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I love books about other countries and especially books about how people survive hardship. This book was about a boy living in Morocco during a famine (as told by the boy, now a man, to his daughter who believes she can't wait until dinner is ready to eat). As the family was running out of food, they sold their cow and then the boy's father went into the mountains to the next valley to look for work. Each day, the boy's mother gave him less and less bread to eat. One day he told her he couldn't ...more
Jul 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-eastern

Format: Picture book
Age level: Elementary
Protagonist: Nora's father
Set in Morocco

Brief Summary: This story begins in present-time with Nora waiting for her father to finish making dinner. As she continues to complain, he tells her a story about his childhood. One year, the crops didn't grow very well and his father went over the mountains to find work. While he and his mother waited, their food supply grew smaller and smaller. Nora's father was always hungry.
Oct 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: arab
Middle East Outreach Council Picture Book Winner 2009

The Butter Man is about Nora who wants a snack before her father’s special dinner of couscous. Her father distracts her by telling her a story of his father who had to sell the family cow because times were tough. Her father wanted a bit of butter to go with his hard bread, but there was none. His mother told him to wait outside for the butter man who never arrived, but the idea of him kept him distracted from his hunger. While he was waiting,
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This story, based on the life experience of one of the authors during his childhood in Morocco, gently teaches compassion, empathy, patience, and gratitude. A father responds to his daughter's impatient hunger while he cooks their weekly Saturday night couscous dinner by telling her a story from his childhood of a time of famine. Left alone with his mother while his father sought work, it concludes with the return of his father, rain, and food, including a meal of couscous like the one he is pre ...more
Jan 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Nice story about a Moroccan boy who lives during a famine and to distract him his mother tells him he must wait for the butter man to come, so he can get butter for the increasingly smaller pieces of bread she gives him. While he is people-watching, he forgets about how hungry he is. The story is told by the little boy, now a father, to his own daughter while she is waiting for her couscous dinner feast and for her mother to get home. The author's note features more information about Moroccan an ...more
L11-Mary Utterback
I thought that this book was a specific representation of culture in Morocco. I remember as a child always wanting to eat a snack before dinner and my parents would always tell me it would spoil my appetite. i connected to this book on that level. However, I have never gone without enough to eat. There was vocabulary embedded throughout that help make it a better representation of the culture. The book can be a bit confusing without the explanation from the author at the end. I would use this bo ...more
Vicki Kier
Jul 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-the-child
While waiting for her father to cook couscous one evening, Nora announces she is "staaarving". In response, her father, a character based on one of the authors, tells Nora about the struggles his family faced one summer in Morocco. Accompanied by earth-toned folk-art-style illustrations, this is a tale worth reading to any child, particularly to children oblivious of their fortune. An author's note is provided, which describes details of life in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Readers will ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
This story made me SO hungry! The description of the coucous meal had my mouth watering. A little girl watches her father make dinner and, while they wait for the meal to cook, the father tells a story about his childhood back in their native Morocco. The story he tells, of course, is about food--in this case, the lack of it. I enjoyed the story, but didn't care for the illustrations, which seemed amateurish and didn't adequately evoke the feeling of being in Morocco.
I think this is the first ch
Tara Crump
Jan 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mc-lit-520
As she impatiently waits for dinner to be finished, Nora declares, "I'm staaarving!" This comment prompts her father to tell her about the time he experienced a drought in his native country of Morocco. I think the story has cultural merit as it gives insight into Moroccan way of dress, some of the occupations people have, the landscape, and the story features Moroccan vocabulary. I think this book also has value as a moral tale, helping the reader understand some of the hardships others endure.
Apr 05, 2013 rated it liked it
A father shares a story of his growing up in his native Morocco with his young child. The father learns patience as well as being distracted from his hunger by waiting for the butter man to arrive. The illustrations are great, I loved the inclusion of the Moroccan words for various family members, and the thread of the cooking of the couscous. The editor could have edited the text to flow a little more smoothly.
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