Cranberries Revealed by Wayne R. Martin is appropriately named: Cranberries Revealed: From the marsh to the table . . . a visual journey. This book is a winner of two Midwest Independent Publishers Association book awards categories. It won the Arts Coffee Table and Cookbooks, Crafts, and Hobbies awards. At our house, we have so enjoyed similar books about blueberries, and it was refreshing to find a new cranberry book with recipes, information, and beautiful photos to enjoy. What is it that is so special about berries? They are pretty, delicious, and seasonal . . . therefore a must buy edible treasure when they appear in the store or farmers’ market. *Note: I bought my own book and this is a non-affiliate post.
The book has received much press, such as coverage in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Green Bay Press Gazette, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI) and many other publications. Radio interviews include the Morning Magazine Show from Wisconsin Rapids, the Idea Exchange from Beaver Dam, WI, and my favorite from Wisconsin Public Radio from the Larry Mieller Show.
Wayne R. Martin dedicated this book to his mother who saw the book proofs and knew about the project, but sadly died before publication. One of her many seasonal part-time jobs was working on the cranberry harvest as some of the work must be done manually. Wayne R. Martin has been a professional photographer for over thirty-five years. He began his career as a photojournalist and later moved into corporate and commercial photography.
The pages of this coffee-table worthy book have wonderful full color photos of everything from the berry to the marsh to the final product. Cranberries grow in marshes in Wisconsin, and in cranberry bogs in other states. Marsh and bog mean the same thing, however, the terminology is a matter of regional preference. I didn’t know the difference before although I have traveled to Wisconsin many times. I worked at a girls’ camp in Minong, for instance. Apple River there is an excursion for tubing down the river on a pleasant summer day. However, if I ever drove by a cranberry marsh I probably wasn’t paying attention. I certainly never saw the magnificent marshes from the air. Martin rode in an ultralight as well as a helicopter to capture his amazing aerial views of the marshes and harvests.
Cranberries Do Not Grow Under Water as Commonly Assumed
Prior to reading this book I didn’t realize cranberries aren’t underwater at all times like it appears from commercials on television. The marshes are actually flooded at harvest time as the berries will float to the top of the water to be collected. The flooding also helps the berries keep from freezing as the harvest is in the fall. Cranberries are buoyant and float as revealed in the photographs by Martin. They have four air chambers inside which I never realized. Did you know the ripe berries bounce? Did you know only 5% of harvested berries are sold as fresh fruit? I didn’t realize I would find these and other interesting facts in the book as at first glance it appeared to be a book of photos.
Harvest techniques are well illustrated in the photographs. Traditional methods and machines both “beat” the berries off the vine. There are a series of steps that follow. A boom is used to as a corral to gather the berries in a smaller space. Very few berries are missed! Most harvesting is done by beating the berries off the bush with rotating rods. Martin told me that cranberries harvested for fresh sale are not beaten off the bush as that bruises the fruit, but through machine harvesting using a raking type of device that is more gentle on the berries similar to a hand raking process. Martin’s photos include processing and even information about an annual cranberry festival. You can see samples of the book pages at this link.
The recipe section is what makes this book a cookbook, and would make a lovely gift for the cooks in your life. We made the first recipe which was Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies. Because it requires dried cranberries, it was easy to find all the ingredients in June although it was not cranberry season. These were a nice surprise for family and friends who were not expecting such a treat. They are festive enough to serve at a 4th of July picnic. Just serve on a blue plate for the requisite red, white, and blue colors. Ready to eat!
How might I used this book at school? Middle schoolers could apprentice themselves to the research style of Martin. Discussion prior to writing papers could include how the students think Martin went about compiling the information. What steps for writing projects do they observe in this book? The engaging photos and information will help hook students and inspire them to write well illustrated papers. The work might on Google slides using public domain photos. A practice research group project before individual projects are assigned might be about cranberries, using this book as reference.
“Cranberries Revealed: From The Marsh To The Table” is an 84 page profusely illustrated compendium by photojournalist and freelance commercial photographer Wayne R. Martin that takes the reader on a truly impressive visual journey into the world of cranberries that goes quite literately from the marshes where they grow to some truly nutritious and delicious cranberry cuisine. Deftly organized and presented in three major sections (Art and Beauty of the Cranberry; Cranberry Culture; Cranberry Inspirations), “Cranberries Revealed: From The Marsh To The Table” will prove an endearingly popular addition to community library collections and should be considered a “must” for all cranberry enthusiasts!
Primary Montessori students could use these 3-part vocabulary cards on a rug or tray to learn some of the language heard in the book. Of course, younger children will mostly only want to look at the attractive pictures. I would not read the entire book to children nor expect them to listen but simply do a picture walk through the book sharing a few of the facts. The cards could be used in a traditional three period Montessori lesson. The learners will impress their parents with new words and information, as Montessori children will do.
I highly recommend this book as a somewhat novel topic and subject area for students who might benefit from an unfamiliar text to really take notice of the writing craft and presentation of facts. So often we study apples in the fall, polar bears in the winter, and plants in the spring. This book would be completely new for many students who would be unfamiliar with the information and more able to learn how the author can draw us in to the learning and capture our attention with photographs and facts.