Next up in our week of food picture books is a fantastic story about a little girl and her grandmother making a holiday feast of traditional soup and sharing in the cooking as well as the history of their family and their Haiti. Dance along to the lyrical tale of Freedom Soup by Tami Charles, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara, 2019.
It’s New Year’s Day and Belle is delighted to be learning how to make their traditional family recipe of Freedom Soup with her Ti Gran. They gather and chop the ingredients while dancing along to Haitian kompa and Ti Gran once again tells Belle why they call it Freedom Soup.
She tells of her people enslaved in Haiti long ago working in the fields and making soup for their masters. She tells of their exhausted hands and spirits. And she tells of the Haitian Revolution, fighting and winning back their freedom. They celebrate together that there is now soup for everyone – Freedom Soup – to be shared with each other and their family, just as their history is shared from generation to generation.
This is such a delightful book that does an amazing job combining a tender, fun moment between a granddaughter and her grandmother; while also sharing a terrible and wonderful part of history in an approachable way. Tami Charles has a lovely author’s note in the back that shares who the real Ti Gran was in her life and how important this passing on of her husband’s family history is for them and their son. She even includes a version of Freedom Soup that we are looking forward to making very soon!
I love the way the story gives a broad look and overview of the Haitian Revolution, keeping true to the tone of the story for Belle, but giving just enough to make readers curious to look up more. It’s powerful to learn history from such a moving and exciting story.
Jacqueline Alcántara’s illustrations are vibrant and feel like a dance, delightfully perfect for this story. You can feel the energy and mood of her paintings and they compliment the text so well.
I hope you grab this book and give Freedom Soup a taste too. It is a powerful book to celebrate freedom with people like Belle and her Ti Gran and a great entry point into conversations about countries and slavery and freedom.
Happy reading and eating!