Our Little Kitchen is a bustling and energetic book about a community meal preparation, based off of author/artist Jillian Tamaki’s experiences working at a kitchen in Brooklyn. Plumes of cooking steam billow out of pots, reminding me of cooking scenes in Miyazaki movies. Characters are diverse in appearance and ability, all working towards a common goal.
Something that I like about the book is the emphasis that perfection isn’t required. Sometimes the carrots are wrinkly, sometimes the pie crust gets deformed in the oven (calling myself out here), but the food is still delicious and the community still comes together. Like the pie I made states, food security is social justice. Not everyone has access to freshly cooked food (especially during the pandemic) and many folks live in food deserts, where healthy food and grocery stores aren’t readily available or financially accessible.
I really appreciate how this book embodies a kitchen perfectly, speech bubbles overlap and bump into each other much like the people bustling around. Having a community space to spend time (without spending money), chat with each other, and get a good meal that also makes use of perishables that aren’t shelf-quality from the store wholly embodies building community care. I love the sustainability aspect, and the gentle language about getting supplies from a food bank and donations. Lots of people utilize food banks, but they’re hardly mentioned in books. Overall, a lovely book that will inspire you to spend some time in the kitchen, or with your community!
From her website: “I am a cartoonist and illustrator. I grew up in Calgary, Alberta and currently live in Toronto, Ontario.
I’ve been a professional artist since 2003, when I graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design. I do lots of different stuff: comics, editorial and book illustration, teaching (SVA and Parsons in NYC), even boarding for the TV show Adventure Time.
My cousin Mariko Tamaki and I are the co-creators of the YA graphic novels SKIM and This One Summer, which won a Governor General’s Award and Caldecott Honor. I’m the author of SuperMutant Magic Academy, a book which collects my webcomic about weird mutant emo kids, and Boundless, a collection of short comic stories for adults. I have written and/or illustrated three picture books, including my latest, Our Little Kitchen (2o20).”