Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Picture Book: Mean Soup by Betsey Everitt

Summary of Mean Soup
Horace has had a bad day at school.  He is so frustrated when he arrives home that he stomps on a flower.  When his mother greets him, he hisses and growls.   His mother acts silly to cheer him up, and she suggests they make some soup together.   After filling a pot with water, she fancifully throws some salt in.   Then, she adds the ingredients!  Taking a deep breath, she screams into the pot.  She tells Horace, “Your turn.”  He stands on a stool and screams too.  His mother screams louder, and Horace growls and bares his teeth.  As the water starts to boil, they repeatedly stick out their tongues.  Horace bangs on the pot with a spoon and breaths his best dragon breath.  Finally, they both smile.   Horace wants to know the name of the recipe.  His mother reveals it is called, “Mean Soup.”  Side by side, they stir the bad day away.   

The whimsical illustrations add to the tone and the characterization in Mean Soup (by Betsy Everitt). Horace’s feelings of embarrassment and anxiety are depicted as well as the mother’s free-spirited and quirky response.  For instance, she puts spoons up by her ears and dances around as Horace angrily lies on the ground. The simple text portrays a common childhood struggle of dealing with emotions. I have a child who sometimes gets emotionally worked up like Horace.  I appreciate how the mother finds a creative and positive way to deal with her son’s emotions.  Sometimes children are too worked up to talk about their feelings or to reason with.  I was inspired by Mean Soup to come up with imaginative ways to help my children when they are feeling frustrated or angry.  Use this book as a springboard to talk to your children (or students) about ways to deal with intense emotions or to brainstorm ways you can help your children when they are having a rough day.  Chances are, they can help you come up with a recipe for your own "Mean Soup."

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