I feel compelled to add my voice to those who are lauding FREEDOM SOUP!
As you can see from the cover, it’s not going to be your everyday dull, boring history lesson. This story will be a shared cooking and dancing celebratory experience, one where we learn how the slaves of Haiti overthrew their oppressors and gained their freedom.
In the first spread, the child narrator announces:
“Today is New Year’s Day. This year, I get to help make Freedom Soup. Ti Gran says I’ve got a heart made for cooking, and it’s time I learned how.”
In the next spread, we see that this learning is going to include LOTS of movement. And so much fun!
I want to dance. Just look at those feet, that salt shaking, apron swinging as
“Haitian kompa pours through the speakers. The shake-shake of maracas vibrates down to my toes….”
We follow along as Ti Gran instructs her granddaughter,
“First, Belle, is the epis.”
They use pilons (mortar & pestles) to mash garlic and herbs before spreading it on the meat to rest. The meat will be the only thing resting for the time being.
They parboil pumpkin before peeling off its skin.
“The skin melts off like butter.”
They peel and chop and add to the pot as “the garlicky smell swirls all around us.”
And as they cook, Ti Gran shares the story of how their ancestors became free.
When this pair is done dancing and cooking, they take a moment to rest in the living room where they talk about how the recipe and its preparation has been passed down for generations, and the granddaughter begins to understand that she is part of this natural progression. Yes, she will share the recipe and story of her ancestors with her children and they will share it with all the children who will come after.
And when cousins, uncles, aunts arrive and dance and eat and celebrate, they do so
“until the last drop of soup is gone,
This is a glorious book to share with children, for reading and learning about Haitian culture and for making Freedom Soup. The author includes a kid-friendly recipe in the back matter along with an author’s note about her husband’s late grandmother, Ti Gran, the woman who is joyfully immortalized in these pages.
Make your own Freedom Soup, using the book’s recipe.
Learn more about Haitian culture
Check out these other children’s books about Haiti
Make your own maracas
Enjoy this clip from the Haitian culture site listed above
Title: Freedom Soup
Author: Tami Charles
Illustrator: Jacqueline Alcántara
Publisher: Candlewick, 2019
Themes: Haitian culture and history, cooking, cross-generational story
For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.