Friday, February 21, 2014

PPBF: The Market Bowl

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Jim Averbeck's The Market Bowl
The Market Bowl
Written and illustrated by Jim Averbeck
Charlesbridge, 2013
Fiction, grades 3-5,
Lexile 600L, word count 1034

Folk Tale, Bravery, Magic, Cooking

     Mama Cecile sang to Yoyo, teaching her to make bitterleaf stew.
     "Slice the bitterleaf thin as a whisper. Wash it in water, cleaning it well. Grind the egusi. Add a knuckle of njanga. Simmer some time for a fine stew to sell."
     "Mama, please," Yoyo said. "I can make my own stew. I am not a baby."

Yoyo is not patient enough to learn Mama Cecile's song or to cook the bitterleaf stew just so. She is in a hurry to get the stew to market. When her overestimation of her talents lead to a loss of income, Yoyo must find Brother Coin and convince him to return the blessing to her family's market bowl. It will take all Yoyo's cunning, charm, and cooking know-how to outwit Brother Coin in this Cameroonian folk tale.

What I Love:
I love a story with food in it. Jim Averbeck weaves plenty of cultural details into this clever trickster tale. His quirky collage paintings add a homemade charm, just like his main character's homemade stew. And what foodie can resist the included recipe for Americanized bitterleaf stew?

Collage pet portraits from Trudy K. Taylor's blog.
1. Here is a companion recipe for Guinea corn fufu from
2. Cameroon is famous for its beautiful handicrafts. ChildrenInspireDesign offers some masks that can be adapted for a more traditional look.
3. Try this tutorial if the illustrations in this book have inspired you to create a collage of your own.
4. While you're at the library, why not pick up another Cameroonian tale, The Fortune-Tellers, by Lloyd Alexander and Trina Schart Hyman.

The Fortune-Tellers

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for February 21, 2014, available on Susanna Leonard Hill's excellent blog.


  1. That Yoyo on the cover looks pretty sassy. Sounds like a cute book.

    1. She's definitely a girl who knows her own mind. I miss the mounds of folktale picture books from the 80's. It's nice to see there are still some being published.


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