cover image Our Little Kitchen

Our Little Kitchen

Jillian Tamaki. Abrams, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4197-4655-0

Tie on your apron!/ Roll up your sleeves!” Every Wednesday, an inclusive pickup team of volunteers—a short Black woman with a commanding presence and a cane, a white parent and small brown-skinned child, and more—gathers in a small community kitchen to prepare a weekly dinner for their neighbors, combining vegetables they harvest from a garden (“Look at these zukes!/ Let’s use them up too!”), food bank beans (“Third week in a row!”), and a donation of apples (“Cut off the brown bits,/ they’re still good to use”) for a simple, filling meal. Clear-line panel artwork by Tamaki (My Best Friend) gives the action superhero-grade visual power with swoops and swirls in swaths of tomato red, avocado green, and beet pink. Smells drift deliciously around the group’s noses, the chief cook tumbles through cascades of beans, and speech balloons collide like atoms. By making the collaborative meal preparation visually brilliant, Tamaki injects energy into this life-giving celebration. Then it’s go time—“I mean it!” yells the crew’s leader—and a parade of food arrives in the dining room, where an equally diverse group of neighbors awaits. Pictures in speech balloons reveal conversations shared over the meal: books, hockey, a sore toe. The cooks can’t save the world alone, but by taking care of their neighbors (“Is your body warm?// Is your belly full?”) they convey the power of thrift, collective action, and community-building. Recipes for an elastic number of diners are included, too. Ages 4–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Sept.)