Author: Eiko Kadona
Illustrator: Satomi Ichikawa
Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Audience: Ages 5-14
Summary: After the death of his wife, Grandpa finds himself day after day alone and sad. One day, he has a sudden urge for his beloved wife’s meatball soup and he gets up and goes to the store and sets about the task of making this soup. Shortly after making the soup, he has a company of mice arrives and he shares his soup with them. Each day Grandpa continues to make soup which gets better as he recalls more of the ingredients and the pots become bigger and bigger as the number of his guests continue to grow. Grandpa looks forward to the next day when he will make more soup than the day before with the hope of having more company.
Literary elements at work in the story:
Genre: Fiction that could deal with grief, loneliness and sharing
Setting: This widower who lives alone experiences the joy of sharing his wife’s soup with others.
Characterization: The author develops the character of the widower as one who was deeply grieved and sad over the loss of his wife. In finding something that he loved about his wife he was able to share this with others and in sharing her soup he found joy and purpose.
Plot: Grandpa is sad and lonely over the loss of his wife. He remembers how much he loved her meatball soup, so he decides to make this soup. The first day Grandpa makes the soup he uses the smallest pot in the kitchen and he shares it with his first guest who happens to be three mice. As each day passes by Grandpa makes a larger pot of soup in order to accommodate all of his guests. Grandpa eats with his guests. Grandpa enjoys this new found purpose in his life.
Theme: The loss of a loved one can cause loneliness and depression. Sharing one of the things he loved about his wife—her soup, eventually leads him to developing a community of animals and friends.
Point of View: This narrative is told in the third person about the main character– Grandpa. Grandpa is shown to overcome his loneliness and grief and is able to develop a community around himself by sharing his wife’s soup which was something that he loved when she was alive.
Style: As the author moves through the story he uses a “song” for the recipe of the soup. Each day as Grandpa makes his soup this song becomes longer as he remembers more of the ingredients that goes into the soup. As the soup gets better, the song becomes longer and longer, the number of guests knocking at the door is also growing. As each guest eats the author likes to highlight the sounds that they make, sip, sip, lap, gulp, slurp…
Gender: No gender stereotyping. Grandpa could easily have been Grandma in any culture.
Race: Grandpa is here represented as a Caucasian male but he could just as easy be any ethnicity.
Culture: The author does a great job of capturing diversity and multiculturalism in his illustrations—all were welcomed to the table even the mice, the cat and the dog.
Ability: The story begins with grandpa suffering from grief and loneliness which at times can be debilitating for many people. Grandpa was able to overcome his grief and loneliness. There is no physical representation of a handicapped person or an overweight person.
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 9:7-8; Matthew 13:52
Theology talk #1: Grandpa’s gives freely of himself even in his grieved and lonely state and he is blessed with joy in return.
Theology talk #2: The reign of God’s kingdom shows everybody getting along. The mice who are usually not friends with a cat are seen at the same table supping together. There is peace and harmony. All are welcomed at God’s table
Faith Talk Questions:
1) Which sacrament in the church reminds us of the table in grandpa’s kitchen?
2) Looking at the table in grandpa’s kitchen, how would you describe God’s kingdom.
3) Has your giving of yourself ever impacted or helped someone feel better?
4) If you have lost a pet or a loved one what are some of the things you have done to get over missing that person or animal?
Review prepared by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Dee Osbourne-Smart
Grandpa’s Soup by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.