Posted on June 8th, 2013 by pajamapress
Mary’s little lamb becomes a village child’s goats in this quirky, Kenya-set tale of making pumpkin vegetable soup.
The story opens with children picking vegetables from a community garden. “But where is Kioni?” Kioni is looking for her goats. Suddenly, the text turns into a familiar rhyme, adapted to reflect its setting in an unnamed Kenyan village. Kioni’s goats “with hair of calico” almost eat the vegetables, but they make a better contribution to the soup instead (never fear: It’s just their milk). Textured collage illustrations combining natural materials and painted images show the busy children, the corn, pumpkin, sweet potato and other vegetables that make up the soup, and Kioni’s calico-haired goats. The simple text is set on harvest-toned pages opposite full-bleed pictures. At one point, two consecutive images carry the action. Two double-page spreads emphasize highlights: goats in the garden (“GO!”) and, at the end, goats and children each eating their appropriate foods. The story concludes with a recipe. Fullerton, who introduced young readers to rural Uganda in A Good Trade (illustrated by Karen Patkau; 2013), provides a positive picture of community cooperation in another rural setting, identified as Kenya in the publisher’s cataloging.
For reading aloud or alone, a nourishing choice. (Picture book. 4-7)
Posted on May 27th, 2013 by pajamapress
“In this Stone Soup-flavoured story, a Kenyan school is busy with lunchtime preparations. While the teachers stir the broth, students pick vegetables from the community garden. Kioni is late—she’s looking for her goats, which have a habit of wandering away. Not only do the wayward animals break the “no goats at school” edict, they also wreak havoc in the garden. Frustrated by her uncooperative, stubborn charges, the young girl grumbles, “I’d like to put them in the soup.” A creative classmate sees a culinary opportunity and incorporates the goats’ milk as a special ingredient.
The book’s spare text warmly invites the reader into the daily life of the village. The simple sentences have a conversational tone and the superb pacing makes for a lively read aloud. Children will also enjoy the riff on “Mary Had a Little Lamb” (“Kioni has a herd of goats, / with hair of calico”).
This is Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award winner Alma Fullerton’s first time as both author and illustrator, and her paper-sculpture illustrations are a visual feast. When Kioni realizes the mess her goats have caused, her “oh no” moment is captured up close, as she gazes directly at the reader, hands covering her mouth with surprise and chagrin. In the field, the children’s bright clothing stands out against the leafy green background. Textures seem tactile, from the rough, peeling bark on twigs to the softly curling tufts of the goats’ hair.
Community Soup offers a satisfying blend of cooperation, hard work, and play…”
—Linda Ludke, a librarian at London Public Library.