Inspired by her own experiences volunteering at a community kitchen in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Jillian Tamaki has created a wonderful story that highlights the power of community and how food can bring everyone together.
Every Wednesday people gather in a small kitchen. Their purpose…to create a meal for those that need it. Using whatever has been donated and the produce that they have managed to grow the team of volunteers work together to cook up whatever they can. The kitchen is alive with noise as the ingredients are chopped, stirred, whipped, peeled, squished, sprinkled and mixed to create a delicious meal.
Old carrots are blitzed into soup, odds and ends of vegetables get thrown into a chilli, day-old loaves are brought back to life with a few minutes in the oven and there’s no end to the uses for the tins of beans that are regularly donated from the food bank. And for dessert…those bruised apples are crafted into a delicious apple crumble. Soon it is time to eat and the queue of people hungrily sit down ready for their meal, to share stories and to enjoy each other’s company.
Our Little Kitchen is such an enjoyable read and is a feast for both the ears and eyes. Each page is alive with colour as ingredients pour out over the pages and the characters busily rush about the kitchen. As an added treat, the inner pages of the front and back covers provide gorgeously illustrated recipes for Vegetable Soup and Apple Crumble. The story is often told in rhyming verse and the busyness of the kitchen is really apparent through the use of speech bubbles. The feeling of community and the love that the volunteers have for what they are doing leaps off each and every page. And the anticipation and joy that those visiting the centre feel before they get their meal is palpable. I could feel my mouth watering and was excited for them getting their hot meal.
Food, glorious food. A wonderful read that is a joyous celebration of the strength of community spirit and the importance of helping those that are less fortunate than many of us.
Recommended for 6+.