Monday, February 20, 2012

PERFECT SOUP by Lisa Moser

Moser, Lisa. Perfect Soup. Illustrated by Ben Mantle. New York, NY: Random House, 2010. ISBN 978-0-375-86014-0. $16.99. Ages 4-7.

Perfect Soup is about Murray the Mouse’s quest to obtain a carrot, which is the only ingredient he is missing from his recipe to make Perfect Soup. Murray really wants his soup to be perfect, so he runs out and asked Farmer for a carrot. Farmer makes a deal with Murray that if he hauls logs of wood for him, he will give him a carrot. Murray can’t actually do it,  so he goes to Horse for help, but Horse wants Murray to get him some jingle bells for his help. Murray goes on and on asking various people for help with all the tasks he agreed to do until he can’t take it anymore. Everyone wants another favor. All the while he is running he keeps passing by Snowman, who tries to get his attention, but Murray keeps ignoring him. Finally, when Murray is at his wits’ end, Snowman comes to help Murray without asking for anything in return. Murray is finally able to make his soup, but it not a carrot that makes it perfect; it is Snowman’s friendship and company.

Perfect Soup is a lovely story that details what friendship is all about. Asking and receiving favors from others is fine and has its place, but nothing beats a gift, where nothing is asked for or expected in return. Murray is so busy arranging favors for everyone that he almost misses out on the simple help and friendship Snowman has to offer. The story contains a lot of back and forth dialogue as Murray keeps having to reiterate the chain of favors he must arrange; this repetition makes the text cyclical, pleasurable, and easy to follow for children. The illustrations depict a beautiful and whimsical winter wonderland full of people and anthropomorphized creatures. It is an outstanding winter book to enjoy.

Joyce Myers

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