Cover image for Soul moon soup
Soul moon soup
Johnson, Lindsay Lee.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Asheville, N.C. : Front Street, 2002.
Physical Description:
134 pages ; 22 cm
After her father leaves and Phoebe and her mother struggle to survive in the city, Phoebe finally goes to the country to live with her grandmother, where she learns family secrets and hopes her mother will return for her.
Reading Level:
900 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.7 2.0 65241.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.1 7 Quiz: 32868 Guided reading level: W.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A novel written in verse, Soul Moon Soup tells the story of a young homeless girl, Phoebe Rose. Phoebe and her mother carry their suitcase through the city from soup kitchen to soup kitchen, trying to get by. Her mother warns Phoebe not to expect too much from life, but Phoebe is an artist who likes to draw wishes and dreams. One terrible day, Phoebe loses the suitcase and everything in it. Her mother puts her alone on a bus and sends her to the country to live with her grandmother for thesummer. Phoebe misses city life and is hurt that her mother sent her away. Gram is gentle and welcoming, but Phoebe is slow to warm to her and makes plans to run away. Then Phoebe befriends a girl across the lake and begins to draw again. Phoebe slowly comes to terms with her separation from her mother, and just when she begins to enjoy being at Gram's, her mother comes for her with the news that they now have a key to a room in the city -- a place they can give things another start.

Author Notes

Lindsay Lee Johnson grew up in a family of storytellers. She thinks of words as her first and most enduring playthings. Ms. Johnson has worked as a newspaper reporter, editor, community education instructor, visiting author in schools, and freelance writer of everything from business brochures to greeting cards and fortune cookies, but her heart has always belonged to fiction. She has written award-winning stories for adults and children and has published two books for children--Hurricane Henrietta and A Week With Zeke & Zach. Ms. Johnson writes from her home in the east central Minnesota countryside, where she lives with her husband, four cats, and assorted other animals. She and her husband have twin daughters and three grandchildren.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-7. A homeless child finds a measure of inner security, and mends fences with her weak, troubled mother, in this first novel, written in verse. The only constants in Phoebe Rose's world of shelters and bus stations are her mother, their one shared suitcase, and her love of drawing. Then she loses all three after the suitcase is stolen, and she winds up at her grandmother's house, so withdrawn that she even stops making pictures. In time, the fragility pervading her simply worded narrative ("These great big wide open eyes / don't miss a thing . . . / better keep looking out, watching out / to keep getting by") gives way to a new and promising confidence, especially after a friend, Ruby, teaches Phoebe that "when things come apart / it's your chance to / rearrange the pieces," and Phoebe mother reappears offering a fresh start. Broad but unresolved hints that Ruby may be Phoebe Rose's older sister aren't the only threads Johnson leaves dangling here, but readers--including less-able ones, who may be drawn by the open format--will come to care enough about this marginalized child to be relieved when she proves equal to her trials. --John Peters

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this volume of connected poems, Johnson (Hurricane Henrietta) crystallizes the emotions of a homeless girl, who describes herself as "fading fast" as she loses sight of hope. In the opening poems, Phoebe Rose longs for her past life, when she lived with both of her parents in an unheated minibus. After her mother decides she and Phoebe need to move to a shelter, "for more quiet/ less fun," Phoebe's sense of loss dissolves into a feeling of emptiness: "But deep inside I'm slowing down,/ down deep inside I'm shutting down,/ closing down, turning into/ nothing." The mood shifts again, after Phoebe and her mother lose their only possession, a suitcase, and hit bottom. Phoebe is sent to live with her grandmother in the country, and it is here, under Gram's nurturing guidance, that Phoebe allows herself to feel again. She "crack[s] open" far enough to let in a friend, neighbor Ruby, and dares to express her secret dreams through art. With the exception of Phoebe's somewhat contrived tie to Ruby (who could be her real sister), the story has poignancy. Readers will be moved by Phoebe's slow acceptance of her loved ones' failings and by her rebound into the stream of life. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-When Phoebe Rose's father leaves, the child and her mother find themselves on the streets, struggling to make it through each day. Phoebe tells her story in poems that offer snapshots of the sorrow and emptiness of homeless life. She shares her realization that she is a burden, and begins to shut down emotionally as she relinquishes her art and her hope. When their small suitcase is stolen, Phoebe's mother breaks down and sends the 11-year-old to stay with the grandmother she doesn't know. Adjustment to a country way of life and to Gram, who "leaks stories" about her family history, come slowly. When a new friend frees Phoebe to begin drawing again, the girl's pain comes pouring out, climaxing when her mother finally comes to visit. Phoebe's mother's voice is not as true as her daughter's, and occasionally the themes become obtrusive. Although Phoebe comes to some sudden understandings, readers leave her appropriately uncertain yet hopeful. The poetry offers glimpses into a world most people quickly pass by on the streets, and will allow readers to imagine the pain of a child hiding in the world and watching the adults she depends upon collapse. This moving story is likely to inspire thought and discussion.-Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.