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Mean Soup
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About the Author

Betsy Everitt graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Mean Soup was inspired by her own experiences on one very bad day in 1991.

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In this energetic picture book Mother knows the perfect recipe for a calming brew. After a horrible day at school and a rough ride home, Horace is in a foul mood. When his mother cheerfully suggests cooking up some soup, the frazzled boy resists--until he's called upon to add some very special ingredients. Mother and son take turns screaming, growling and making faces into the simmering pot of water, stirring up a successful batch of ``mean soup.'' The text features short sentences and easy but effective vocabulary, so the story bubbles with a building excitement. Everitt's ( Frida the Wondercat ; The Happy Hippopotami ) stylized paintings and bold palette--hot pinks, purples and black predominate--convey all of the feisty emotion of a frustrated youngster. Her human figures have wispy outlines and sometimes resemble chunky high fashion sketches. Children and adults alike will be heartened by this innovative method of relieving stress. Ages 2-6. (Apr.)

PreS-Gr 1-- An unsatisying blend of realism and fantasy that may confuse young children. Horace has had a bad day--including getting stepped on by a show-and-tell cow and riding home with Miss Pearl, who nearly kills three poodles on the way. He feels mean, so his sympathetic mother suggests that they make soup. She salts a pot of boiling water and then they take turns screaming into it and sticking their tongues out at it. Horace also bangs a spoon on the side of the pot while it boils on the stove (an unsafe practice) and, in a jarring departure from realism, he breathes ``his best dragon breath,'' at which point flames emerge from his mouth. At last Horace smiles. The text is appropriately simple and direct. The stylized gouache paintings are large and clear enough for group sharing. They are boldly colored, energetically composed, and sometimes offbeat and silly. The final scene depicts Horace and his mother ``stirring away the bad day,'' but their backs are to the readers, which unfortunately lessens the emotional impact. Sharmat's Attila the Angry (Holiday, 1985) or Simon's I Was So Mad! (Albert Whitman, 1974) are for slightly older children, focusing on a broader range of emotions. --Cynthia K. Richey, Mt. Lebanon Public Library, Pittsburgh, PA

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