Freedom Soup

by Tami Charles (Author) Jacqueline Alcántara (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Join the celebration in the kitchen as a family makes their traditional New Year's soup -- and shares the story of how Haitian independence came to be. The shake-shake of maracas vibrates down to my toes.

Ti Gran's feet tap-tap to the rhythm. Every year, Haitians all over the world ring in the new year by eating a special soup, a tradition dating back to the Haitian Revolution. This year, Ti Gran is teaching Belle how to make the soup -- Freedom Soup -- just like she was taught when she was a little girl.

Together, they dance and clap as they prepare the holiday feast, and Ti Gran tells Belle about the history of the soup, the history of Belle's family, and the history of Haiti, where Belle's family is from.

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Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Outside, it's a snowy New Year's Day, but inside, sunbeams shine through windowpanes, and pumpkin, garlic, and herbs synthesize with rhythmic kompa beats as a grandmother passes down a cultural family tradition. This year, it's Belle's turn to unwrap the secrets of her Ti Gran's recipe for Freedom Soup, a time-honored Haitian dish made from epis (seasoning), marinated meats, vegetables, and pumpkin. After the two mash, peel, brown, slide, and dance, Ti Gran "begins to tell a story, the same one she tells every year," in rhythmic, candid descriptions of Haiti's days of slavery and then successful revolution ("to take back what's theirs"). The dynamically detailed mixed-media artwork swirls with motion, feeling, and references to Haitian culture, and Alcántara (The Field) creates memorable characters in Ti Gran and Belle. Complete with a soup recipe and a personal note from Charles (Like Vanessa) honoring her family and Haitian history, this vibrant title is bound to teach, empower, and rumble the bellies of its readers. Ages 5-9. (Dec.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

K-Gr 2--It's New Year's Day, and Belle gets to help her grandmother, Ti Gran, make the Freedom Soup because the child "has a heart made for cooking." As Ti Gran teaches Belle the recipe, she retells the history of the injustices of slavery in Haiti, how the people fought and died in the revolution so Haiti could be free, and how the soup that they are making is a celebration of that freedom. Ti Gran's storytelling practically bursts with love and pride for the people who came before, and Belle (and readers) is swept up in her joy. The glorious, expressive illustrations will make everyone wish they had a Ti Gran in their lives as she and Belle exuberantly dance, snuggle, chop, and stir their way through the day. Belle says, "One by one, I slide the ingredients into the bubbling liquid. The pumpkiny-garlic smell swirls all around us." The image of the bubbling pot with a golden steamy aroma weaves the past and the present together as Ti Gran recounts her tale. Finally, as family gathers to celebrate and remember, Belle feels proud of the soup she helped make and connected to her family's past, present, and future. A recipe for Freedom Soup and an author's note are included. VERDICT From Ti Gran ceremoniously adorning Belle with a matching apron to the final view of city windows full of revelers, this book is a start-to-finish celebration of family, history, and culture. A delectable first purchase for libraries.--Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

A Haitian grandmother and granddaughter share a holiday, a family recipe, and a story of freedom...This tale features characters for whom cooking is an elaborate dance as well as family bonding, and the soup looks so tempting readers will swear they smell it. A stunning and necessary historical picture book.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

From Ti Gran ceremoniously adorning Belle with a matching apron to the final view of city windows full of revelers, this book is a start-to-finish celebration of family, history, and culture. A delectable first purchase for libraries.
—School Library Journal (starred review)

The dynamically detailed mixed-media artwork swirls with motion, feeling, and references to Haitian culture, and Alcántara (The Field) creates memorable characters in Ti Gran and Belle. Complete with a soup recipe and a personal note from Charles (Like Vanessa) honoring her family and Haitian history, this vibrant title is bound to teach, empower, and rumble the bellies of its readers.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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.
—Shelf Awareness for Readers (starred review)

Each and every page effortlessly flows into the next, emphasizing the strength of Belle's ancestors and the poignancy of a beautiful, celebratory tradition created out of respect for those who fought for freedom. Alcántara does an equally wonderful job, imbuing her mixed-media artwork with lively movement and bold color while Belle and Ti Gran are busy in the kitchen and movingly juxtaposing those scenes with images of the Haitian revolution. This well-told story is a natural choice for multicultural holiday collections, as well as for sharing stories about heritage and tradition.
—Booklist

Every spread brims with jubilant colors and fluid lines, and Alcántara furnishes the kitchen and living room with family photos and cultural markers, such as a cross, paintings and a Haitian flag...Tami Charles's text is just as celebratory as the illustrator's images. In an author's note, Charles (Becoming Beatriz) shares her inspiration for this luscious picture book.
—Shelf Awareness Pro

The exuberant food story can serve as a tasty entrée to history in the Americas or just to family celebratory traditions. An author's note gives more information about the Haitian Revolution and her own family connection to the soup; a recipe for the soup is also included.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Tami Charles
Tami Charles is the New York Times bestselling author of All Because You Matter and numerous books for children and young adults. Her middle grade debut, Like Vanessa, earned three starred reviews and a Junior Library Guild selection. Her latest titles include young adult novel in verse, Muted, which was a BuzzFeed Top 40 pick for 2021; lyrical picture book We Are Here; and a picture book biography about Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. When Tami isn't writing, she can be found presenting at schools both stateside and abroad. For more info, you can follow Tami on Twitter @TamiWritesStuff or Instagram @TamiWrites.

Jemma Skidmore is a dyslexic, mixed-race illustrator who grew up in rural Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. Although she wasn't a confident early reader, she has always been fascinated by the art of storytelling. Jemma studied fine art at Falmouth University and has gone on to work in print, film, and television in London and Vancouver, British Columbia. She has now returned to Gloucestershire, where she lives with her family and a cat named Blue.
Classification
Fiction
ISBN-13
9781536221930
Lexile Measure
-
Guided Reading Level
-
Publisher
Candlewick Press (MA)
Publication date
December 07, 2021
Series
-
BISAC categories
JUV039250 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Emigration & Immigration
JUV030040 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | Caribbean & Latin America
JUV017080 - Juvenile Fiction | Holidays & Celebrations | Other, Non-Religious
Library of Congress categories
History
Grandmothers
Soups
Haiti
Foreign countries
Revolution, 1791-1804
Haitians

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