________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 12 . . . . February 6, 2009

sopadefrijoles cover Sopa de frijoles: Un poema para cocinar : Bean Soup: A Cooking Poem.

Jorge Argueta. Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/House of Anansi, 2009.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-0-88899-881-1.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.


Para una sabrosa
sopita de frijoles
Solo necisitas.

For a yummy
bean soup
all you need are.

For maximum enjoyment of Sopa de frijoles : Bean Soup, all you need are a little familiarity with (or interest in) Spanish and a small person with whom to share this delightful little bilingual picture poem. Simply written and sprinkled with metaphoric images, the text of Sopa de frijoles : Bean Soup is fun to read in either language. It is indeed a "cooking poem" with no forced rhymes or attempts to make the lines scan to interfere with the poetic flow of the text.


First spread
the beans
out on the sky of the table.

The beans are stars.

Throw away
any little pebbles.

When the beans touch
they clink a little song.

You can sing too.

     Writer Jorge Argueta, a native Salvordoran who now lives in San Francisco, CA, is an award- winning author of picture books and poetry for young children. His fusion of poetic language and cooking instructions works beautifully. On each of sixteen pages of the book, the Spanish words appear first with the English translation underneath. Opposite each page of text, there appears a painting by the talented South American illustrator Rafael Yockteng. The artist's depiction of the small cook and the series of actions in which he engages as he concocts the bean soup will appeal to both young listeners and older readers. Observant readers will notice and enjoy Yockteng's inclusion of spills and messes the little chef leaves in his wake for his mama to clean up. A note at the beginning of the book warns readers that all instructions marked with an asterisk require the participation or supervision of an adult.

     Though children living in many areas of the United States have the opportunity to hear or speak Spanish frequently, such is not the case with Canadian children. For this reason, Sopa de frijoles : Bean Soup is not likely to be as popular a read-aloud for the 4 to 7-year-old group in this country as it would be south of the border. Nonetheless, young children are often fascinated with language and are at an excellent stage in their linguistic development to enjoy and appreciate Argueta and Yockteng's charming little cooking poem.

Highly Recommended.

Valerie Nielsen is a retired teacher-librarian who lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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