Rainbow Stew by Cathryn Falwell
The waking glee of three young children staying with their grandfather quickly turns to “[w]himper, sigh, cloudy sky,” when their plans for outdoor adventures get rained out. But Grandpa isn’t going to let a few drops get in the way and announces “‘Let’s go and find some colors for my Rainbow Stew!'” Amidst the excited “[s]plish, splash, puddle dash,” Grandpa and his grandtrio head to the lush garden where they pick a bounty of green, yellow, purple, red, brown, and orange vegetables. Back inside, the foursome “[p]eel, slice, chop, and dice” their harvest, until soon enough, the Rainbow Stew warms both the kitchen and four hungry, happy bellies.
While her words have no ethnic-specific identifiers, Cathryn Falwell (Butterflies for Kiri) enhances her story with multi-culti hues, choosing to give her story’s family – via her charming illustrations – African American heritage. She then adds small details throughout that wordlessly strengthen her prose: a grocery list that includes “tofu,” a reminder note to “call Lee” – surely a nod to Falwell’s wonderful indie press Lee & Low Books, a framed graduation picture of a young woman who is most likely the children’s mother, a copy of her own book – David’s Drawings (also published by Lee & Low) – pulled from the shelves and left on the floor as if in mid-read, the children’s art displayed throughout the house, and a wall calendar turned to the month of July which means the kids are enjoying their summer vacation. By both showing and telling, Falwell’s latest is a welcome rainbow of vibrant hues, ready and waiting to share.