Community Soup

Alma Fullerton. Pajama Press (Orca, dist.), $19.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-927485-27-9
The recipe for Fullerton’s second picture book, after A Good Trade, involves a bit of “Stone Soup,” a dash of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and a rural Kenyan setting. Outside a schoolhouse, children harvest vegetables for soup: “In the community garden, Jomo picks a pumpkin. Dalila plucks some beans. But where is Kioni?” Fullerton’s illustrations mix paper collage with mixed-media elements, and the next page shows a girl with big brown eyes and a yellow cloth dress carrying bundles of grass, finishing her chores. When Kioni finally arrives at school, her goats follow, wreaking minor havoc and letting Fullerton riff on a familiar nursery rhyme: “Kioni has a herd of goats,/ with hair of calico./ And everywhere Kioni goes,/ those goats are sure to—go!” The shift from prose to verse is awkward, and story ends abruptly, but there’s much to enjoy in Fullerton’s textured illustrations, from the goats’ wooly hides, to the dark green vegetation in the garden and thickly painted hills in the distance. A portion of sales benefits the Creation of Hope Project, which supports building community gardens in Kenya. Ages 4–7. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/03/2013
Release date: 08/01/2013
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