Click to order now!Soul Moon Soup
by Lindsay Lee Johnson
At age 11, Phoebe Rose describes life “in the hard poor middle of the city,” where she and her mother sleep in doorways and shelters. Only when she is sent to live in the country with her Gram does Phoebe learn, “When things come apart it’s your chance to rearrange the pieces.”
Of every book I have read, Soul Moon Soup best captures and expresses the perspective of a girl in these most difficult situations. The exquisite prose-poetry relates the challenges she faces at school, in the shelter, and with every relationship. As she puts the pieces together, we gain in understanding.
In an interview found in its entirety in The Complete Guide to Service Learning, Lindsay Lee Johnston describes, “We often talk about a person having a particular ‘mind-set’ to accomplish something. But I credit my desire to write about homelessness and other social justice issues with having a ‘heart-set’ for service. When I began writing Soul Moon Soup, I did not think about ‘homelessness.’ I began with a character who has a story to tell.
“As a volunteer at various shelters, again I saw individuals in difficult circumstances, people experiencing homelessness rather than ‘homeless people’ as a group. Labels can stop us from wanting to get involved and take action. The best way for me to contribute to people’s awareness of this situation is to tell a story, the story of one girl, Phoebe Rose, who lives on the ‘stoop-sitting, gutter-spitting streets.’ Her voice spoke to me so clearly and powerfully.
“As I wrote Soul Moon Soup, Phoebe’s voice naturally took the form of free verse, with a lyrical poetic quality. I wanted the book to have beautiful language in spite of the story’s harsh realities.
“Phoebe’s character demonstrates a strength that will enable her to survive. For me, Soul Moon Soup is the most meaningful story I have ever written. I hope this is conveyed and that Phoebe’s voice is passed along. Then I know I will have accomplished something worthwhile.”
Service Learning Ideas: Hunger and Homelessness This is one of the most compelling books with vivid language to develop empathy for others. At the heart of this book is the act of giving, one to another, and how this must be done with mutual respect. The chapter Secrets of the Shelter is one I have read aloud during hundreds of workshops and always creates depth of awareness and conversation leading to more thoughtful action. The prose poetry format makes this book accessible to a diverse level of readers and ages.
Soul Moon Soup, 134 pages, Grades 5-12