PPBF – Freedom Soup

It’s January, and the wintry winds are whistling outside my window. Although it’s a few weeks since we celebrated the start of the new year, I think today’s Perfect Picture Book, about a special New Year tradition, and a perfect winter food, is a perfect picture book for the holiday, or any day.

Title: Freedom Soup

Written By: Tami Charles

Illustrated By: Jacqueline Alcántara

Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press/2019

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: intergenerational, cooking, traditions, Haiti


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 learn how.

Brief Synopsis: Belle helps her grandmother cook Freedom Soup for the New Year’s celebration, a tradition from their Haitian culture.

Links to Resources:

  • Cook and enjoy Freedom Soup, using the recipe at the back of the book;
  • Freedom Soup is a special soup prepared in Haiti and by those of Haitian descent. Learn about Haiti;
  • Does your family enjoy preparing and eating a special food? Ask an older relative to explain why the recipe is special and to help prepare it with you.

Why I Like this Book:

Freedom Soup is a joyous celebration of family and cultural traditions. With its bright illustrations and vivid language, I loved experiencing Ti Gran and Belle working together to create Freedom Soup. As snow piles up, “cottony-thick” outside, the pair shimmy and shake to musical beats – even the steam dances in ribbons “up to the ceiling”, and the “pumpkiny-garlic smell swirls all around us.”

As the soup cooks, Ti Gran relates its origins, reminding Belle, and readers, of the importance of freedom and the history of Ti Gran’s native Haiti.

Alcántara’s illustrations transported me to the Caribbean, with Haitian artwork evident in several scenes, and fabrics adding additional pops of color.

A Note about Craft:

In an Author’s Note, Charles reveals that she learned about Freedom Soup from her husband’s late grandmother. I love how Charles has crafted a picture book based on a family member and grounded in Haitian history by imagining Ti Gran teaching a young child how to cook Freedom Soup and why.

By weaving music and dancing through the text, Charles roots the story in the culture of Haiti, and, I think, brings a celebratory feeling to a special activity shared by a grandmother and her granddaughter.

Visit Charles’ website to see more of her books. Visit Alcántara’s website to see more of her work. Alcántara is also the illustrator of The Field (Baptiste Paul, 2018).

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!


13 responses to “PPBF – Freedom Soup

  1. How fun! I just checked out this book last week and loved the lively illustrations that accompanied the story. I loved the “cottony-thick” piles of snow, too. What great word choices!

  2. At first glance, I thought the two were dancing on a balcony – but there were too many suns in the sky! Haha! Cover is very inviting, like an invitation to a party!

    • An invitation to a party – how perceptive! Even though the story includes the difficult history of Haitians’ quest for freedom, the story is about celebrating, and a family party takes center stage.

  3. This is one I haven’t seen yet. Have it one hold. Thank you for the introduction. I am looking forward to checking out the language and images.

  4. I’m looking forward to this one. I’ve got it on hold at the SFPL. I’ve read a couple of reviews, including yours, and it’s going to the top of the stack once I get it. Thanks!

  5. This is one of my new favorites! It has spirit! I am delighted you enjoyed it so much. It is vibrant and lively with gorgeous illustrations and the soup recipe at the end. Hope it gets a lot of exposure!

  6. This book cover always makes me want to get up and dance into my kitchen and have blast.

  7. Pingback: Perfect Pairing – of Traditional Comfort Foods | Wander, Ponder, Write

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