K-Gr 2-A simple, rhyming text recounts how five children gather ingredients from a garden to make soup. "Over there are onions-they will make you cry!/And here are peas and green beans,/climbing to the sky." The full-spread illustrations, rendered in watercolors, inks, and colored pencils, include plenty of whimsical details. After all of the veggies have been collected, the youngsters head back to the kitchen to make their "Homegrown, home cooked, magic minestrone!" The idyllic garden contains no weeds or damaged plants, even though there are bunnies, pigs, squirrels, mice, sheep, goats, and chickens wandering among the plants. There is not an adult in sight, but the children handle everything beautifully. A recipe is appended.-Carolyn Jenks, First Parish Unitarian Church, Portland, ME Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
This very pretty rhymed recipe book falls apart in the cooking department. A gaggle of kids of various races and genders gather to pick the tomatoes, onions, zucchini, and other veggies to make minestrone soup. The illustrations, beautifully rendered in watercolor, ink, and pencil, owe some to dePaola with their round and solid shapes and summer colors. Each page is bordered in a varied vegetable pattern, and friendly sheep and cows gambol near the children. They retire to the kitchen to make the minestrone, and are old enough to manage the knives and spatulas they wield. It all ends in a lovely outdoor tableau of "Homegrown, home cooked, magic minestrone!" Children may be charmed, but the recipe given in the back doesn't match the ingredients in the garden: "pesto" is listed as an ingredient but never explained, and anyone who cooks pasta in soup for over an hour deserves the mush they will get. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-8)