Soul Moon Soup

Soul Moon Soup

4.0 1
by Lindsay Lee Johnson, Handprint

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A novel written in verse, Soul Moon Soup tells the story of a young homeless girl, Phoebe Rose. Phoebe and her mother carry their suitcase through the city from soup kitchen to soup kitchen, trying to get by. Her mother warns Phoebe not to expect too much from life, but Phoebe is an artist who likes to draw wishes and dreams. One terrible day, Phoebe loses the

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A novel written in verse, Soul Moon Soup tells the story of a young homeless girl, Phoebe Rose. Phoebe and her mother carry their suitcase through the city from soup kitchen to soup kitchen, trying to get by. Her mother warns Phoebe not to expect too much from life, but Phoebe is an artist who likes to draw wishes and dreams. One terrible day, Phoebe loses the suitcase and everything in it. Her mother puts her alone on a bus and sends her to the country to live with her grandmother for the summer. Phoebe misses city life and is hurt that her mother sent her away. Gram is gentle and welcoming, but Phoebe is slow to warm to her and makes plans to run away. Then Phoebe befriends a girl across the lake and begins to draw again. Phoebe slowly comes to terms with her separation from her mother, and just when she begins to enjoy being at Gram’s, her mother comes for her with the news that they now have a key to a room in the city — a place they can give things another start.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this volume of connected poems, Johnson (Hurricane Henrietta) crystallizes the emotions of a homeless girl, who describes herself as "fading fast" as she loses sight of hope. In the opening poems, Phoebe Rose longs for her past life, when she lived with both of her parents in an unheated minibus. After her mother decides she and Phoebe need to move to a shelter, "for more quiet/ less fun," Phoebe's sense of loss dissolves into a feeling of emptiness: "But deep inside I'm slowing down,/ down deep inside I'm shutting down,/ closing down, turning into/ nothing." The mood shifts again, after Phoebe and her mother lose their only possession, a suitcase, and hit bottom. Phoebe is sent to live with her grandmother in the country, and it is here, under Gram's nurturing guidance, that Phoebe allows herself to feel again. She "crack[s] open" far enough to let in a friend, neighbor Ruby, and dares to express her secret dreams through art. With the exception of Phoebe's somewhat contrived tie to Ruby (who could be her real sister), the story has poignancy. Readers will be moved by Phoebe's slow acceptance of her loved ones' failings and by her rebound into the stream of life. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
"Keep your eyes open, / Phoebe Rose, / Mama says, / and you mouth / shut." Eleven-year-old Phoebe Rose has been following that advice and absorbing everything around her until she feels as though she will burst. She turns to art as a means of escape, but when her father, who always nurtured her talent, leaves, her dreams of becoming an artist fade. Forced out onto the streets, she and her mother bounce from shelter to shelter, unable to make ends meet and carrying all their possessions in a tattered suitcase. Life on the streets begins to take its toll, and Phoebe Rose finds herself withdrawing from everyone and everything including her drawing. When she accidentally loses the suitcase, she is sent off to live with her grandmother at Full Moon Lake. Distrustful at first, she soon flourishes in the country under the love of her grandmother and her new friend Ruby, who provides the inspiration she needs to draw again. After her twelfth birthday, Mama returns, and Phoebe Rose must decide between going off with her to an uncertain future in the city or staying in the country. Told completely in verse, this novel is an interesting look at the complex dynamics between mothers and daughters. Phoebe Rose is a likeable character whose struggle to make sense of her mother's faults and limitations will likely strike a chord among youth who are just discovering their own parents' imperfections. The prose is simple yet elegant and will appeal to middle school and junior high readers who are already fans of this genre. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M J (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2002, Front Street,134p,
— Aimee Lurie
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-When Phoebe Rose's father leaves, the child and her mother find themselves on the streets, struggling to make it through each day. Phoebe tells her story in poems that offer snapshots of the sorrow and emptiness of homeless life. She shares her realization that she is a burden, and begins to shut down emotionally as she relinquishes her art and her hope. When their small suitcase is stolen, Phoebe's mother breaks down and sends the 11-year-old to stay with the grandmother she doesn't know. Adjustment to a country way of life and to Gram, who "leaks stories" about her family history, come slowly. When a new friend frees Phoebe to begin drawing again, the girl's pain comes pouring out, climaxing when her mother finally comes to visit. Phoebe's mother's voice is not as true as her daughter's, and occasionally the themes become obtrusive. Although Phoebe comes to some sudden understandings, readers leave her appropriately uncertain yet hopeful. The poetry offers glimpses into a world most people quickly pass by on the streets, and will allow readers to imagine the pain of a child hiding in the world and watching the adults she depends upon collapse. This moving story is likely to inspire thought and discussion.-Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Phoebe Rose and her mother are homeless, abandoned by Daddy with no resources to support them, but shelters and a suitcase. In the bus depot restroom, Phoebe Rose loses even the suitcase, and Mama sends her home to Gram in the country. As Johnson (Hurricane Henrietta, 1998, etc.) portrays it in free verse, Phoebe Rose's emotional maturity develops rapidly. Arriving at Gram's where there are chickens laying eggs, immediate friendships on offer, and Full Moon Lake to enchant her, Phoebe Rose thinks she's found heaven, only wishing for a sign out front to confirm it. Realistically, she fears losing this new comfort as well as wondering if Mama has abandoned her. Gram's revelations about Mama's past and the family quarrel that separates them help Phoebe to understand her mother in a new way. The verse has moments of insight: "Without that suitcase to hold me down / I can't walk straight, think I might blow away / down the street / like a cartoon tumbleweed." The blankness and anonymity of life in the city contrasts nicely with the energy and lush greenery of the country, but it all starts to fit together too neatly, too quickly. The arrival of her first period on her 12th birthday--instead of her expected mother--is an example of how symbols and events mesh in unlikely ways. Once one has accepted the condensing of these events and rapid maturity of the narrator, the effect is slightly less sentimental, but without a doubt Johnson is trying to tug at heartstrings. The use of free verse for novels has gained sudden popularity, but this particular effort could have used a slower pace, a separation between poems, and some grit. (Fiction. 10-14)

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Product Details

Highlights Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)
900L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 13 Years

Meet the Author

Lindsay Lee Johnson grew up in a family of storytellers. She thinks of words as her first and most enduring playthings. Ms. Johnson has worked as a newspaper reporter, editor, community education instructor, visiting author in schools, and freelance writer of everything from business brochures to greeting cards and fortune cookies, but her heart has always belonged to fiction. She has written award-winning stories for adults and children and has published two books for children—Hurricane Henrietta and A Week With Zeke & Zach. Ms. Johnson writes from her home in the east central Minnesota countryside, where she lives with her husband, four cats, and assorted other animals. She and her husband have twin daughters and three grandchildren.

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Soul Moon Soup 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is really great. I think Febbie has been through alot.For a little girl to go through what febbie has must have been pretty difficult because she is so young. Her mom isnt the best person in the world but you read the book to find out why.This girl is a really strong young female and i look up to her. Her grand mother took her in when her mother had to leave and for her grandma to do that is wonderful because she could have left her grand daughter all alone but she didnt and i look up to her to for that.