Freedom Soup

In Tami Charles and Jacqueline Alcántara's Freedom Soup, a granddaughter and grandmother create a traditional Haitian meal together, combining history and delicious food. The two prepare Freedom Soup, a stew filled with vegetables, meat and herbs made to celebrate the new year in most Haitian households. Ti Gran instructs Belle on what ingredients to slide into the pot. As Belle adds the ingredients, Ti Gran explains the origins of the soup, which doubles as the history of Haitian independence from colonialism and slavery. Charles's text is just as celebratory as Alcántara's images.

Alcántara's (The Field) textured illustrations--rendered in pencil, marker and gouache and then assembled digitally--are accented with the golden orange of Belle's favorite ingredient: pumpkin. The sumptuous illustrations accentuate Tami Charles's evocative, celebratory text. In an author's note, Charles (Becoming Beatriz) shares her inspiration for this luscious picture book: her husband's Ti Gran taught her how to make Freedom Soup (or Soup Joumou) with a recipe that had been passed down for generations. She includes their family's kid-friendly recipe, giving readers an opportunity to make the traditional soup at home. Haitian Creole words appear throughout, adding to the book's authenticity, and some are translated within the recipe.

The story concludes with family members and friends pouring into Ti Gran's home, a shelter from the "cottony-thick" snow. Joy overflows the rooms as they celebrate the new year--and Belle's delicious soup. Her pride in her cooking skills reflects her pride in her Haitian heritage: "I puff out my shoulders wider than the Haitian mountains, stand so tall I can almost touch the moon." --Shelley Diaz, supervising librarian, BookOps: New York Public Library & Brooklyn Public Library

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