Tie on your apron!
Roll up your sleeves!
Pans are out, oven is hot,
the kitchen's all ready!
Where do we start?
In this lively, rousing picture book from Caldecott Honoree Jillian Tamaki, a crew of resourceful neighbors come together to prepare a meal for their community. With a garden full of produce, a joyfully chaotic kitchen, and a friendly meal shared at the table, Our Little Kitchen is a celebration of warm bodies, full bellies, and looking out for one another. Bonus materials include a recipe and an author's note about the volunteering experience that inspired the book.
"This loving ode to community takes place in a lively, busy kitchen, where a group of neighbors works diligently and happily together to create a meal out of whatever they happen to have. A bouncy, rhythmic text offers a narrative, but more often than not, it's shouldered out of the way by Tamaki's enthusiastic artwork, expressive speech balloons, and jostling ribbons of noisy onomatopoeia. Images of vegetables, grains, broth, and cooking utensils spill and swirl across the pages as the kitchen crew "chop chop chop chop chop," "splash," "squish," and "sizzzzzzzzle," sometimes with the ingredients surreally dwarfing the people, all in service of a hearty homemade meal. A page spread of frenzied last-minute questions set against a bright-red background will ring true for anyone who's helped make a meal for a crowd--especially the relief and calm once everyone's finally sitting down together and eating companionably. The cast is realistically varied in skin tone, body size, age, and ability, and they treat each hungry guest with welcoming warmth. While not every kid has the experience of participating in a community kitchen, the sense of fellowship around making and sharing food is sure to hit home, and the undercurrent here--that not everyone can get the food they need--is an important reminder. A couple of simple, largely visual recipes are a delicious bonus."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Tie on your apron!/ Roll up your sleeves!" Every Wednesday, an inclusive pickup team of volunteers--a short Black woman with a commanding presence and a cane, a white parent and small brown-skinned child, and more--gathers in a small community kitchen to prepare a weekly dinner for their neighbors, combining vegetables they harvest from a garden ("Look at these zukes!/ Let's use them up too!"), food bank beans ("Third week in a row!"), and a donation of apples ("Cut off the brown bits,/ they're still good to use") for a simple, filling meal. Clear-line panel artwork by Tamaki (My Best Friend) gives the action superhero-grade visual power with swoops and swirls in swaths of tomato red, avocado green, and beet pink. Smells drift deliciously around the group's noses, the chief cook tumbles through cascades of beans, and speech balloons collide like atoms. By making the collaborative meal preparation visually brilliant, Tamaki injects energy into this life-giving celebration. Then it's go time--"I mean it!" yells the crew's leader--and a parade of food arrives in the dining room, where an equally diverse group of neighbors awaits. Pictures in speech balloons reveal conversations shared over the meal: books, hockey, a sore toe. The cooks can't save the world alone, but by taking care of their neighbors ("Is your body warm?// Is your belly full?") they convey the power of thrift, collective action, and community-building. Recipes for an elastic number of diners are included, too. Ages 4--8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Sept.)"
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