Strawberries and Nickel Twists
by Nana
PageTurner Press and Media

"Uncle Robert gave me nickels,
That always made me tickled.
Nickel twists and strawberries,
That is what he gave to me."

Written entirely in rhyming verse, the story tells of a warm relationship between a little girl and her uncle Robert. Narrated from the perspective of an older woman reflecting on her youth, the book recounts how fond she was of dancing and of how Uncle Robert would reward her by giving her “nickel twists” and strawberries from the freezer in his barn. She recalls how he would clap along and keep time to the beat. He had also a swing on which they played together, and when they tired of this, they would go fishing on the pier or play volleyball with friends. She laments, with a certain wistfulness, the lavish Easter meals that she used to enjoy with him and the rest of her family. The end of the book reveals that Uncle Robert has since passed on, leaving her with only her memories.

Like Proust and T. S. Eliot, Nana explores the intricate relationships between food and memory, the living and the dead. Although some of the illustrations are less effective than others, the poetry itself is lively, engaging, and brimming with nostalgia. The shuttling back and forth between the present and past lends poignancy to the narrative, reminding the reader of the irreversibility of time and death. As in previous children’s classics like The Lord of the Rings and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, members of an extended family are shown to be just as beloved and valuable in their own way as one’s next of kin. The portrayal of games, communal meals, and holiday celebrations touches on some of the most primal experiences of a young child’s life.

Return to USR Home