Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cactus Soup

Kimmel, Eric A. (2004). Cactus Soup. P. Huling. New York: Marshall Cavendish.

Literary Genre: Multicultural/International (Picture Book) 

Hungry soldiers ride into the town of San Miguel to eat and rest but the townspeople hide their food and pretend to be very poor. The captain asks for a cactus thorn and he begins to make cactus soup. The townspeople are tricked into adding salt, pepper, vegetables, and meats into the soup and soon enough the town of San Miguel is transformed into a lively fiesta. The colorful, detailed southwestern style illustrations do a nice job of representing the time period and avoiding cultural stereotypes.

Cactus Soup is the Mexican version of the story "Stone Soup". There are a variety of versions of this story across many cultures and they could all be used to discuss/celebrate diversity in a classroom of nearly any age group. I value Eric Kimmel’s supplementary features, such as, an author’s note that shares information about the Mexican Revolution and a glossary that defines many of the Spanish words used in the story. I enjoyed this book and believe it can be useful in the classroom, however; I feel that it is at the lowest level (contributions approach) of the multicultural hierarchy because it does not engage readers in Mexican culture.

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