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Kallaloo jacket

KALLALOO!

co-author, Phillis Gershator

illustrated by Diane Greenseid

Little Bell Caribbean, 2015


* Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2006
* Summer Reading Program, USVI, 2013

From the book jacket:
    
Can a shell really make soup?
     It might, if it's a brown-and-white West Indian shell, fresh from the sea. All it needs is a master soup-maker, like Granny, to stir the pot--and a little help from the folks in Market Square. Who wouldn't be willing to lend a hand to cook up some kallaloo, a soup famous from Jamaica to Trinidad? But there's one final ingredient missing--and even the magic shell forgot to mention it!.

A little about the book:
Phillis says--

     "Stone Soup" has always been one of my favorite stories. When I was in college I thought of it often as my friends and I scrambled to make a meal from nothing. At the supermarket we'd buy a box of about-to-be discarded vegetables for a dollar and concoct what we of course called "stone soup." David and I were recalling those days one night, probably over a bowl of soup, and he said, "Why don't we write a Caribbean stone soup? The soup would have to be the most popular soup in the islands, and instead of a stone, we'll use a shell!"
     Kallaloo is practically the national dish of the Caribbean. We first discovered it in 1969 when we moved to St. Thomas, and our first taste was prepared by our neighbor, Arona Peterson. Mrs. Petersen wrote a column in dialect for the local newspaper and books about traditional herbs and proverbs, but she also catered local specialties out of her house, including kallaloo and, to our kids' delight, sugarcakes.
     Our book includes a traditional recipe for kallaloo, basically a rich, thick soup, more like a stew, plus an easy recipe which Popeye would appreciate:

QUICK KALLALOO FOR TWO

Boil one package of finely chopped frozen spinach OR cook 3 cups of fresh spinach in 2 tablespoons of melted butter, covered, until tender. Add 3 cups homemade or canned fish stock (or any kind really--vegetable or chicken is fine) and boil. Add half pound of cut-up fresh or frozen fish fillet. Simmer until fish is cooked through. Be careful not to overcook.

To serve, add lime juice to taste and a scoop of fungi. (Fungee is the same as corn meal mush or polenta: corn meal and boiling water stirred together until the meal is soft and the mixture is thick.)

Diane Greenseid and her husband Pete McCabe visited St. Thomas in 2006. Diane and I have something in common, other than our love of picture books. Our husbands are both songwriters! David and I got to hear the catchy singalong song Pete wrote for Kallaloo! It begins like this:

KALLALOO SONG

Words and music: Pete McCabe

The poor hungry lady walked by the sea.
She was thinking about food for her empty tummy.
She picked up a shell to hear what she could hear
and imagined a voice whispered in her ear.
Soup. ďWhat?Ē
The shell said soup.
ďSoup would be great. Soup would be nice.
But Iím afraid I canít pay the price.Ē

But the sea shell said this soup is free
if you just sing along with me:

If you want a super-duper soup
make your stew kallaloo.
If you want a super-duper soup
make your stew kallaloo.

Take this shell, throw in the pot.
Offer a taste to every friend youíve got
If you want a super-duper soup
make your stew kallaloo.

She went into town and boiled up the shell
in a big iron pot she found at the well.
The water was bubbling. The stew was hissing
when a friend took a taste and said somethingís missing.
Water and a shell wonít do it alone.
Iím throwing in this old ham bone.

If you want a super-duper soup
make your stew kallaloo.
If you want a super-duper soup
make your stew kallaloo.

Take this ham bone, throw in the pot.
Offer a taste to every friend youíve got
If you want a super-duper soup
make your stew kallaloo.

And the story song continues. Everything gets added to the pot--onions, greens, spices, and fish, until itís a kallaloo, for true!

And David and I wrote a kallaloo calypso:

KALLALOO CALYPSO

Words: Phillis & David Gershator
Music: David Gershator

If you feel hungry-hungry, belly talk to you.
Donít worry at all. Granny knows what to do:
mix fish and onions, ham and spinach, too,
crab and okra in Grannyís Kallaloo.

Clap your hands, stamp your feet
if youíre ready for an island treat.
Hullabaloo, what a hullabaloo!
Hullabaloo for kallaloo!

If you feel hungry-hungry, add a scoop or two
of yellow cornmeal fungi in your bowl of stew.
Your belly will be happy and say for true
thank you, thank you, thank you for a lovely kallaloo.

Clap your hands, stamp your feet
if youíre ready for an island treat.
Hullabaloo, what a hullabaloo!
Hullabaloo for kallaloo!

If you feel hungry-hungry, if youíre feeling blue,
donít worry at all now, you know what to do.
Call your friends and neighbors to come and eat with you
and cook them up a big pot of hearty kallaloo.

Clap your hands, stamp your feet
if youíre ready for an island treat.
Hullabaloo, what a hullabaloo!
Hullabaloo for kallaloo!


And here's a reminder from David--

Kallaloo: it's everybody's favorite stew, the national soup of the Caribbean. Try it, you'll like it, the story and the soup--better than Campbell's.

From the reviews:

"'Lunchtime,' said Granny, 'and me belly bawling' ...So begins this West Indian version of the ever-popular 'Stone Soup.' In lilting language, Granny and her hungry stomach have a conversation about what they are going to do as she sits fishing, but not catching anything....This humorous tale can be enjoyed alone, but is well suited to reading aloud. Greenseid's bright and vibrant acrylic illustrations are a perfect interpretation of the text and bring the setting to life. A well-written, engaging, and gentle story about sharing and the power of working together to achieve a goal."   School Library Journal

"Acrylic illustrations in brilliant tropical colors practically dance off the pages....This tale could be read aloud for pure pleasure, or it could launch a classroom unit on cooperation, world hunger, folktale variations, or life in the West Indies."   Library Media Connections

Art by Diane Greenseid

Kallaloo spot