Winter 2019 Kids Indie Next List
“Jacqueline Alcántara’s energy-filled illustrations match perfectly with Tami Charles’ story of a grandmother and granddaughter cooking together and learning some Haitian history in the process. A story that is sure to make your mouth water and your heart sing.”
— Cecilia Cackley, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC
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. In this celebration of cultural traditions passed from one generation to the next, Jacqueline Alcántara’s lush illustrations bring to life both Belle’s story and the story of the Haitian Revolution. Tami Charles’s lyrical text, as accessible as it is sensory, makes for a tale that readers will enjoy to the last drop.
About the Author
Tami Charles is the author of numerous books for children, including her fiction debut, Like Vanessa. During an appearance on Good Morning America, she featured a Thanksgiving version of Freedom Soup, which she first learned to make from her husband’s ti gran. Tami Charles lives in New Jersey.
Jacqueline Alcántara, the illustrator of The Field by Baptiste Paul, was selected for the inaugural We Need Diverse Books Mentorship program. She lives in Chicago.
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.
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