Freedom Soup by Tami Charles

Freedom Soup

Tami Charles, Author

Jacqueline Alcántara, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Dec. 10, 2019

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Haitians, New Years Day, Family Recipe, Traditions, History, Freedom

Opening: “Today is New Years Day. This year, I get  to help make Freedom Soup. Ti Gran says I’ve got a heart made for cooking, and its time I learn how.”

Book Synopsis:

Every year, Haitians all over the world ring in the New Year by eating Freedom Soup, a tration dating back to the Haitian Revolution. The year, Ti Gran is teaching Belle how to make the soup. Just as she was taught when she was a little girl. Together, the dance and clap as they prepare the holiday feast.

“Know why they call it Freedom Soup?” Ti Gran asks. She then tells Belle about the history of the soup, the history of Belle’s family, and the history of Haiti, where Belle’s family is from and the passing down of traditions from one generation to the next.

Why I like this book:

Tami Charles’ lively holiday Haitian tale is a celebration of family, culture, traditions, and community. Just look at that gorgeous cover! Dance your way across this joyful story with Ti Gran, whose feet tap-tap to the kompa beat as she shows her granddaughter how to mash herbs, peel the cooked pumpkin, chop the vegetables and brown the meat for their special soup.

Reader’s will learn about a Haiti, a faraway country where Ti Gran was born. Her descemdents were slaves working in sugarcane and coffee fields until they fought and won their freedom from the French in 1803.

Make sure you read the “Author’s Note” at the end.  Tami Charles’ shares her family’s story with readers and more detailed history about abolishment of slavery in Haiti and Haitian Independence Day.

Jacqueline Alcántara’s bold and colorful illustrations make this vibrant story sing from Ti Gran’s soup kitchen to the revolutionary scenes. They also capture the spirit of the Haitian community. The beautiful collaboration between the author and illustrator, makes Freedom Soup a perfect multiculture choice for holiday collections.

Personal Note:  I was thrilled to review this beautiful and upbeat Haitian story. Haiti is special to our family because our daughter went on two medical mission trips to Haiti and introduced us to this beautiful country that is filled with so much soul. We sponsored Haitian children for years so they could attend school. It is also a poor country that has suffered many natural disasters in recent years.

Resources: Make the recipe for Freedom Soup, which is printed at the end of the book along with an Author’s note. Make sure you read the “Author’s Note” at the end.  Charles’ shares her family’s story with readers and more detailed history about abolishment of slavery in Haiti and Haitian Independence Day.

Tami Charles is the author of numerous books for children, including her fiction debut, Like Vanessa. During an appearance on Good Morning America, she featured a Thanksgiving version of Freedom Soup, which she first learned to make from her husband’s ti gran. Tami Charles lives in New Jersey.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by the publisher.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

21 thoughts on “Freedom Soup by Tami Charles

  1. This sounds like a wonderful book, Patricia. I love the movement in the cover illustration. It makes me feel like dancing with them. How wonderful to learn of another family’s culture and traditions through such a lovely picture book. I also enjoyed finding out how the connection with Haiti is special to you.


  2. This is so cool! I story, and also a recipe, and also connected to the author’s personal life and history! This seems like such a treasure, both helping preserve Haitian tradition while educating others about them. Awesome review! Happy New Years!


  3. I’m really looking forward to reading this one & have a request in for it at my library. What can be better than food + family + intergenerational + learning about Haiti & its history! Happy New Year!


    • Thank you Maria. When I was approached to review this book, I snatched it right away. I really have a love for Haiti. It is uplifting to see a Haitian-American family share their memories. As I closely watch what has been happening in Haiti since the massive earthquake, it hurts my heart. People are worse off than 10 years ago. They rebuilt a major hospital, but it remains unused. Thanks to a Catholic hospital, no one is turned away. My daughter still communicates with Haitian friends and the situation is quite bleak. The infrastructure is still a major problem. So much poverty. It breaks my heart.


  4. I am so excited to see this book in person. I have seen Jacqueline speak about her illustration process ad got to see a few snippets of this book. She will be at our Illinois SCBWI Illustrators group meeting as the presenter this month.


    • Lucky you! Her illustrations are beautiful and vibrant! I hope she writes more books about Haiti — we need them and she has a family connection. I loved seeing an Haitian-American family sharing a tradition and learning about the revolution. Since the earthquake 10 years ago, the Haitians have really been suffering. There are so many stories to tell! I try to keep up with what is happening there and my daughter still communicates with friends. Tell her I loved her book and I want more!


  5. My brother (a physician) donated his time for months off and on over a period of years, with a group of doctors who would take all of their medical supplies and see patients for hours on end. Tthere was so much need for medical care. I’m glad this story celebrates Haitian culture and freedom. Now, if we could only channel $$$ to help at a more broad level. I’m putting this book on my list. Thank you!


    • I loved Tami’s personal relationship to this story and a feel for the culture. I hope she writes more books on Haiti! Yes, I am well aware of what is happening in Haiti. The medical situation is dire. The new hospital, has never opened. Fortunately a Catholic hospital doesn’t turn anyone away. Haitians are worse off now than 10 years ago. Thank heavens for doctors like your brother and medical mission trips that go to help.

      Liked by 1 person

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