Picture Book Picks – Quill Soup

I was lucky enough to request and receive a copy of this from the publishers. All views and opinions are my own.

Quill Soup by Alan Durant and Dale Blankenaar

Published as part of Tiny Owl’s #OneStoryManyVoices range, this is a telling of the African folktale “Quill Soup”, which will also be familiar to many from the European story ‘Stone Soup’ (and likely there are other versions too!)

When Noko the porcupine arrives in a village after a long journey he is tired and hungry, but it seems no one has any food they can share. Until, that is, Noko starts cooking up his delicious quill soup, which promises to be fit for a king. Then one by one, the other animal families manage to unearth some ‘forgotten about’ morsels to add to the pot.

A story bringing a message of community, of the importance of helping each other and of not turning a blind eye to the struggles of others, this is a timely and important tale.

Noko’s cunning, but also his natural warmth and generosity, are well conveyed by the text, as is the suspicious, self-interested nature of the other animals. There is a conspiratorial air to the tale too as we, the reader, begin to see and share in Noko’s clever plan.

But it’s the illustrations that really take this telling to another level. They are outstanding. Both captivating in their own right and perfectly suited to the story, each spread exceptionally well-matched to the text it accompanies.

I love how the images change as the story progresses. From a more almost urban feel to a more wild and natural one. From segregated, singular animals or groups of animals to a riot of beasts. From a more minimal, and predominantly cooler, palette to vibrant, colourful pages.

The textures, patterns and techniques are perfect for the story and its origins too and make this a truly stunning book to return to again and again.

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