Jillian Tamaki’s Our Little Kitchen

h1 July 16th, 2020 by jules

Here’s a post that is a bit of a preview of a picture book coming out in September (because I can’t help myself). Our Little Kitchen (Abrams) is from Caldecott Honoree Jillian Tamaki and tells the story of a group of neighbors who come together to make a meal in a community kitchen. “Every Wednesday, we come together in this little kitchen,” the book opens. “Our little kitchen, a tiny, small place, is just big enough, so squeeze in and make space ….”

After donning aprons and rolling up sleeves, the neighbors get right to work. Their fearless leader (pictured above) reminds them that they have everything they need for a delicious meal and that they can lean on the bounty from the garden they’ve grown together. But they also make do with what is left: There are day-old loaves from the bakery; there are bruised apples, but they can still be used for apple crumble; and there are beans from the food bank, housed in the kitchen where they work. Two dynamic spreads are devoted to the “music” they make as they cook — with chops, sizzles, peels, splashes, and more.

It’s a relaxed, amiable atmosphere as everyone—a truly diverse crew of volunteers—prepares the meal; the dialogue is expressed via lively speech ballons. Tamaki’s linework here (rendered via nib and ink) is fluid and graceful, and her palette, colored digitally, is vivid. These are neighbors who get right to work and who understand that some people in their community are having trouble keeping refrigerators filled. In a closing author’s note, Tamaki writes that for many years she volunteered at a small community kitchen in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. She was told when to show up, and once she did, she was put right to work. “You can start by peeling those potatoes,” they told her before even offering a “hello.” Eventually, she writes, she felt a part of the crew. She adds that the neighborhood in which she worked with her community was changing after the economy had crashed and that, when times are tough, it’s food security that is compromised.

And this is part of the beauty she captures here—a group of people, though a small group, doing their part and working together, with compassion, to make a difference. Throw in some amazing salad—and endpaper recipes for vegetable soup and apple crumble—and you’ve got one warmhearted book that delights the senses.

Here are a few spreads. …


“Every Wednesday, we come together in this litle kitchen. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“See how our little garden has grown?”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


* * * * * * *

OUR LITTLE KITCHEN. Text and illustrations copyright © 2020 Jillian Tamaki. Illlustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Abrams Books for Young Readers, New York.

2 comments to “Jillian Tamaki’s Our Little Kitchen

  1. I love the roundness of the limbs, the variability in the depiction of the human body – from size to shape to hair color. J. Tamaki’s work is truly gorgeous.

  2. I’m hungry! Now!! We’ll need community meals more than ever in September… Gorgeous book and a real slice of life.

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact sevenimp_blaine@blaine.org. Thanks.