market bowl

The Market Bowl by Jim Averbeck

Mama Cecile taught Yoyo to make bitterleaf stew, the same stew they sold at the market.  But Yoyo thought that the entire process took too long, so she took some shortcuts herself.  Then she snuck her batch of stew along with them to the market.  Mama Cecile warned Yoyo that they must always accept a fair price for their stew, otherwise Brother Coin, the Great Spirit of the Market, would remove his blessing from their bowl.  After selling all of Mama Cecile’s stew, there was still one customer left, so Yoyo pulled out her own stew and tried to sell that.  But she rejected his small offer for her stew.  Thunder rolled and through the next days, no one came to their staff at the market.  Now it was up to Yoyo to fix what she had done.  That would take traveling to see Brother Coin in person.

Set in modern-day Cameroon, this story skillfully blends folk elements as it talks about the culture as well.  The book will make a great read aloud thanks to the ease of the language used and the natural rhythm of the storytelling.  It would also be a great candidate for storytelling for those reasons too.

Averbeck’s art has a strong modern edge to it.  He shows the gorgeous textiles that people wear.  Additionally, he uses textures and patterns to create other objects as well, such as the shanty houses and details of interior scenes.

A modern-day folk tale, this is a rich glimpse into Cameroon.  The book ends with a recipe for bitterleaf stew too!  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.