November 04, 2020

Our Little Kitchen

Written and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Groundwood Books
40 pp.
Ages 4-7
September 2020
The community kitchen in Our Little Kitchen may be small in size but it's big in heart and because of a mixture of compassion, courage and perseverance, it feeds the world with goodness.

From Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki
 In Our Little Kitchen, author-illustrator Jillian Tamaki takes us into a community kitchen like the one at which she regularly volunteered in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Through rhyming verse, we are invited into the kitchen as a mother and her child arrive to lend their hands.
Tie on your apron!
Roll up your sleeves!
Pans are out, oven is hot.
The kitchen's all ready,
where do we start?
A wonderful assortment of individuals begin the process of deciding on the day's meal, looking at what they've grown in their garden and preserved, as well as what has been donated to or purchased for their pantry. Though rotting food is discarded, almost everything can be used. Day-old bread is refreshed in the oven, bruised apples cleaned up for apple crumble (recipe provided in the end papers) and a plethora of canned beans offer an opportunity to brainstorm meal choices.

From Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki
Beyond the kitchen, a community starts coming together to catch up on life. So as the hall fills with chatting neighbours, the kitchen staff is frantically bringing food stuffs together into a meal. There's humour ("Those who don't cook don't get to complain!") and panicking ("Just one more sec, please?") but soon a multi-coursed meal with protein-rich chilli, veggies and salad is delivered to an appreciative crowd.

From Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki

There's so much life in Our Little Kitchen, in the kitchen, in the eating hall and in Jillian Tamaki's telling of the story. Though community kitchens vary in their scope, whether helping to alleviate hunger or supporting marginalized groups, there is a boisterous togetherness that comes from working collectively for a common goal. In the dialogue of her characters, the liveliness of her rhyming text, or the bold colours and dynamism of her scenes, Jillian Tamaki lets young readers participate in the worthwhile endeavour of these food gatherings.

From Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki
Start your own discussion about community kitchens with little ones–why they are important and how to get involved– and join Jillian Tamaki's neighbours as they work together to cook and confer, share and nourish. Use their recipes for vegetable soup and apple crumble or use your own to cultivate and nurture a sense of fellowship.

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