cover image Grandpa's Soup

Grandpa's Soup

Eiko Kadono. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8028-5195-6

Since Grandma's death, Grandpa has been too sad to do anything; he just sits in his house all day. One morning, he decides to make a batch of his late wife's meatball soup. Pulling his smallest pot from the shelf, the man sings the song she sang as she cooked (""Boil the water./ Roll the meatballs round..../ Add a little salt and pepper./ Add a little butter""). Three mice appear in the kitchen, drawn by the aroma, and Grandpa invites them to eat. Only a small portion remains for Grandpa, who is disappointed to find out that his soup doesn't taste as good as his wife's. On successive days, Grandpa prepares soup in progressively larger pots, each time remembering a new line of the cooking song (""Chop some tiny onions""). The drop-in guests multiply, finally including a handful of animals and 10 amiable children. Ichikawa's (Dance, Tanya) lifelike paintings brim with particulars, such as figures outlined on the door's curtain to foreshadow the identities of each batch of hungry diners. Spot art (which depicts Grandpa's range of pots, china bowls appropriately sized for his various visitors and the additions to his evolving recipe) appears alongside the text, helping youngsters read between the lines. Originally published in Japan, this endearing book features a multiethnic cast, and the message, too, transcends cultures. Ages 2-8. (Oct.)