Author: Tami Charles
Plot Summary: Every year, Haitians all over the world ring in the new year by eating a special soup, a tradition dating back to the Haitian Revolution. This year, Ti Gran is teaching Belle how to make the soup - Freedom Soup - just like she was taught when she was a little girl. Together, they dance and clap as they prepare the holiday feast, and Ti Gran 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. In this celebration of cultural traditions passed from one generation to the next, Jacqueline Alcántara's lush illustrations bring to life both Belle's story and the story of the Haitian Revolution. Tami Charles's lyrical text, as accessible as it is sensory, makes for a tale that readers will enjoy to the last drop.
Posted In: Colonialism, Differences, Ethics, Identity, Liberation, Race

Discussion Questions

Warm-up questions (optional):
  • Do you like to cook? Does anyone in your family like to cook? Do you cook together?
  • Is there a special food that is important to your family? Is there a special food that you only eat for celebrations?
  • What is a “tradition”? What traditions do you have in your family?
Questions for after reading the story:
  • How is food a part of someone’s community?
  • Can food be a part of someone’s identity? How so?
  • Why do some families have different traditions?
  • Are traditions good or bad? Does it depend on the tradition?
  • Why do you think Ti Gran wants to continue the tradition of making Freedom Soup and retelling the story of Haiti’s history, even though it has been so long since the events in the story happened, and even though Ti Gran and her family do not live in Haiti anymore?
  • Is it important to remember history? Why or why not?
  • What is the difference between “remembering” and “commemorating”?
  • What does it mean to be “free”?
  • Why do you think Ti Gran says to Belle, “Nothing in this world is free, not event freedom?”
  • What does it mean when someone says we must “fight for what is right?”
  • Is it ever okay to use violence? What about in self-defense? What about in a fight for freedom?

Before discussions that might touch on social justice issues, read “Things to Think About.”

Contributed by Sam Sandoval, University of Washington