Hello, friends! Surprise! Since we missed two of our reviews this week, we’ll be making them up with two bonus reviews this weekend! Today, we’re looking at The Whole World Inside Nan’s Soup, written by Hunter Liguore and illustrated by Vikki Zhang, a fascinating exploration of interconnectivity and community.
When a young child asks her grandmother, Nanni, what she is stirring in her large soup pot, she is surprised by the answer: “Seeds”. Nanni explains that the vegetables in the soup grew from seeds, who were nurtured and tended to by farmers, whom she claims are also in the pot. In fact, it seems the pot is filled with all sorts of unexpected things: the sun and rain that helped the vegetables to grow, the honeybees that pollinated their flowers, the delivery drivers who brought the food to market, even the bus drivers and merchants that enabled Nanni to purchase them. And since the recipe was passed down from her own grandmother, she is sure to note that love is inside the soup as well. The child asks to learn the recipe one day, and her grandmother agrees, as long as they can remember everything in the pot. Yet the child already does: the whole world is in that homemade meal.
Lovely. While many elements of this story are fairly fanciful – from the otherworldly/anthropomorphic creatures who roam the village alongside Nanni and her grandchild to a somewhat idealized version of food production – its themes tie into real-life lessons that any reader can benefit from. Liguore weaves a loving conversation between grandparent and child while deftly encouraging readers to consider the work and lives tied to the food on their table, and the importance of our reliance on each other as a community, and the earth as a resource. It’s subtle, delicate, yet immensely effective, especially when paired with Zhang’s incredibly detailed illustrations that will knock out any fan of Chinese folk/anime artwork. The length is better for elementary readers; preschoolers and younger may not have the patience, but JJ loved the intricate illustrations and gentle story. This is a truly unique and lovely tale, and we definitely recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!
(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)