soup spoon or scepter?: the princess of borscht by leda schubert and bonnie christensen


*sniffs air*

Mmmmm! My keen olfactories have detected the heady aroma of a brand new soup picture book simmering on the shelves. As your friendly self-appointed soup reporter, I’ll gladly give you a taste of this toothsome charmer cooked up by Leda Schubert and Bonnie Christensen.

Ruthie’s grandmother, hospitalized with pneumonia, would rather starve than eat the food there. She has a hankering for homemade borscht, and even though Ruthie has never made any before, she promises to bring some to Grandma by 5 p.m. But first, she must track down Grandma’s secret recipe!

After searching high and low in Grandma’s apartment without success, Ruthie asks one of the neighbors for help. Mrs. Lerman, the self-proclaimed Empress of Borscht, is only too pleased to oblige. They begin by cooking and peeling fresh beets.

In no time at all, two other neighbors appear: Mrs. Rosen (First Lady of Borscht), insists onions should be added, and Mrs. Goldberg (Tsarina of Borscht), swears by lemons, sugar and salt. Since Ruthie is still unable to find the secret recipe, she adds everything they suggest to the pot. All this regal bickering makes Ruthie’s head spin. Will too many cooks spoil this soup, the one-and-only soup that will make Grandma feel better?

After they leave, Ruthie tastes for herself and decides something is missing. After sniffing a few of Grandma’s herb jars, she throws in something that smells pickly. Ruthie and her Dad, who thinks beets are yucky, transfer the soup to a thermos, stopping on the way to the hospital at Mr. Lee’s corner store. When he gives Ruthie a container of sour cream, she wonders if he’s the King of Borscht.

You must read the book for yourself to find out whether Grandma likes Ruthie’s borscht. Let’s just say that when it comes to this particular soup, the most important ingredients are the good intentions of loved ones buoyed by caring friends and neighbors. As with all things in life, a little pinch of salt, a squirt of sour, and a dash of sweet keep things happily abubble and unpredictable.

Soup-loving munchkins will easily identify with Ruthie’s earnestness and savor Christensen’s vibrant, zesty illustrations. Her thick charcoal outlines and rich jewel tones echo the strong personalities in the story and invite the reader right into Grandma’s kitchen, establishing an easy familiarity with all the characters. It’s likely readers will clamor for repeated servings of this heartwarmingly delicious offering. All hail the kingdom of Borscht!

written by Leda Schubert
illustrated by Bonnie Christensen
published by Roaring Brook Press, 2011
Full color Picture Book for ages 4-7, 32 pp.
Includes Borscht Recipe on back cover
Cool themes: Cookery, families, friendship, illness, grandmothers, ethnic foods
On shelves now!

♥ Leda Schubert’s official website.

♥ Bonnie Christensen’s official website.

♥ Leda talks about the book at the MacKids blog!

Help yourself:

via Muffet


*Spreads posted by permission, text copyright © 2012 Leda Schubert, illustrations © 2012 Bonnie Christensen, published by Neal Porter/Roaring Brook. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.