________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 39. . . .June 7, 2013


Community Soup.

Alma Fullerton.
Toronto, ON: Pajama Press, 2013.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-927485-27-9.

Subject Headings:
Community gardens-Kenya-Juvenile fiction.
Community kitchens-Kenya-Juvenile fiction.
Kenya-Social life and customs-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Reesa Cohen.

***1/2 /4

Reviewed from f&gs.



It's soup day!
Outside the Schoolhouse,
The teachers stir the broth.
But where are the vegetables?


Teachers in a Kenyan school are making soup. Their pupils help harvest the vegetables they have grown by picking pumpkins, sweet potatoes, corn and beans to add to the soup. However, one little girl, Kioni, is late joining the group. She is busy doing chores and then looking for her troublesome herd of goats. Alas, her goats follow her to the garden and chaos ensues! Kioni ends up dragging them all to school despite the "No Goats" rule. But this time the goats and their milk are put to good use by the clever and resourceful gardeners who display a fine lesson in cooperation.

     Fullerton is known more for her writing of juvenile books that have won her recognition and awards, but her foray into picture books is most welcome. Community Soup is her first effort to illustrate her own story. The simply told story uses sparse language, but it is the lively drawings that are so winning. Fullerton's incredible 3D collage illustrations in mixed media fairly leap off the page and cleverly complement the text. Sticks, grass, ropes, material, and fur are all put to inventive use and enhance the marvelous paper artwork. Adding to the energetic feel of the art is the use of the bold colors and expressive faces.

      The book is accompanied by a recipe for Pumpkin Vegetable Soup. The back flyleaf indicates that a portion of the proceeds of the sale of Community Soup will be donated to the "Creation of Hope Project" in Kenya. A website offers more information.

     Community gardening is at the heart of this delightful picture book, and one can sense the importance of this concept to the author. Fullerton's dedication is worth noting.

For my mother and for Grandpa Talbot, who taught me that gardening can provide nourishment for both body and soul.

     I would hope that teachers and adults reading to children would point out this special dedication to their readers.

Highly Recommended.

Reesa Cohen is a retired Instructor of Children’s Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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