[delectable review] The Whole World Inside Nan’s Soup by Hunter Liguore and Vikki Zhang

A new soup book? Yes, please!

I hope you have a very big spoon, because you’ll need it to slurp up all the goodness. 🙂

The Whole World Inside Nan’s Soup by Hunter Liguore and Vikki Zhang (Yeehoo Press, 2021) takes place in a cozy kitchen, where a young girl asks her grandmother what’s inside the big metal pot she’s stirring.

“Seeds,” says Nanni, prompting the girl to ask, “How can seeds be inside the pot?”

Nanni explains that the seeds grew up to be vegetables, adding that there are also gardeners in the pot. This further arouses the girl’s curiosity; she can’t imagine how gardeners could also be inside the pot.

Winking, Nanni says, “Gardeners, with their gentle hands, planted the seeds that grew up to be vegetables and ended up inside the pot.” Of course Nanni then adds even more ingredients: “soil and rain.”

Their conversation continues in this cumulative tale fashion, as Nanni mentions how rain and sunlight helped the vegetables grow, with honeybees pollinating the flowers.

Then, of course, there are the farm workers who harvested the vegetables, as well as the delivery drivers who transported the veggies to market. They mustn’t forget roads, highways, traffic lights, bridges, waterways, or even the electricity that keeps the town running.

Wow! the girl is amazed and excited about everything that factors into the making of Nanni’s vegetable soup. There’s one other special ingredient, too, perhaps the best of all: Love, in the way this family recipe was passed down from generation to generation, so that Nanni could now share the soup with her.

“Will you teach me the recipe, Nanni?”

Nanni said, “You’ll have to remember everything that’s inside the pot.”

“But I already do!”

Nanni looked at me. “What’s inside the pot?”

“THE WHOLE WORLD!”

Love the endpapers!

Vikki Zhang brings this delightful farm-to-table story to life with her exquisite, richly detailed illustrations, which alternate between two color (blue/tan) and full color spreads. She depicts a diverse, fanciful world of natural beauty and abundance, complete with ornate borders, sequenced panels, inventive compositions, and variances in scale.  

The choice to use different palettes is an interesting one: to contrast past vs. present, or, perhaps, real vs. imaginary? After all, we see the girl envisioning each of the scenarios Nanni describes throughout the book. When hearing about the gentle gardeners, she pictures herself planting seeds and tracking plant growth, and when Nanni adds “the sun, the moon, and the stars,” the girl is seen dancing with anthropomorphized figures representing these three things.

Zhang also cleverly expands on the big metal pot motif with two pot-shaped gardening spreads, and a pot-shaped cafe, with the chef receiving the produce.

The two color and full color spreads blend seamlessly, underscoring the book’s overall themes of continuity, interconnectedness, and living in harmony, not only with others, but also with animals. 

It is important that kids know where their food comes from, and appreciate the vital roles nature, individual workers, suppliers, merchants, and communities play in keeping us all fed. 

They will undoubtedly be fascinated with the wealth of detail contained in the intricate illustrations, beginning with Nanni’s inviting kitchen, where a cat plays with a stalk of celery, a teddy bear rests on a shelf, and a jar of chocolate chip cookies and homemade cake wait to be devoured. 

Literally a feast for the eyes, kids will love identifying plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and charming animals (did I mention the bear on the bicycle?). Yes, take me to Cafe Jane, where I’d be happy to share a sandwich with that rabbit wearing a blue pullover.

By turns whimsical, informative, and imaginative, The Whole World Inside Nan’s Soup is a timely paean to the virtues of nurturing the human family and taking care of the planet — as we are not only interconnected, but interdependent on one another for our very survival. The heartwarming relationship between grandmother and granddaughter keeps this bubbly story soup on a nice simmer. Another bowl, please!

*

THE WHOLE WORLD INSIDE NAN’S SOUP
written by Hunter Liguore
illustrated by Vikki Zhang
published by Yeehoo Press, August 2021
Picture Book for ages 3-8, 32 pp.
*Published simultaneously in English and Chinese editions

♥️ Check out the Teaching Guide and Lesson Plan

♥️ Enjoy the Official Book Trailer:

*


*Interior spreads text copyright © 2021 Hunter Liguore, illustrations © 2021 Vikki Zhang, published by Yeehoo Press. All rights reserved.

**Copyright © 2021 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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