‘A Soup of Nothing’, Darabuc & Rashin Kheiriyeh

A Soup of Nothing

Darabuc & Rashin Kheiriyeh
12,90€ | 978-84-9871-275-9
36 pages | hardback | 25×23 cm |
June 2011

-If with that it’s enough…
-If it’s enough? More than enough!

Darabuc and Rashin Kheiriyeh are the chefs in this delicious Nothing in the Soup that from now on the hungry readers will find on the OQO editora menu.

The author revives an old recipe, that of Stone Soup, a popular tale as often occurs with the stories of traditional origin present different versions depending on the country.

Darabuc, knowledgeable about this rich tradition, takes inspiration from it but re-elaborates the ingredients and cooks Nothing in the Soup, personal, modern and with a great dose of humour. The result being a fable with which children will learn the importance of sharing and solidarity. Not only this, they will discover that to overcome situations of necessity and difficulty, on many occasions, all that is needed is a little imagination and ingenuity.

The main characters, as in most fables, are animals. In this case, Mary Fox and John Cat, both mischievous, arrive at the palace gates one fine day asking for food. That’s where the miser John Rat lives and who doesn’t want to give them anything, and so they offer to prepare him a prodigious soup, Nothing in the Soup.

The author plays with the symbolism of the characters, since the fox as well as the cat are animals that the collective imagery attributes characteristics such as intelligence and cunning. The same can be said of the rat, traditionally associated with meanness.

Darabuc opts for a conversational structure in which the always humorous answers and counter-answers of the characters move the story along. The outline in general, faithful to tradition, is as follows: Mary Fox suggests some ingredient that will make the soup taste better and John Rat who doesn’t realize the cunningness willingly accepts because it’s only an ingredient of no importance.

The repetition of all the ingredients each time a new one is added, besides helping with the rhythm of the story, offers younger children the golden opportunity to work with some of the measuring units (pinch, splash, handful, string) most used in cooking.

Other recourses, such as the measure of the verses or the use of formulas that are repeated from beginning to end also strengthen the rhythm of the narrative.

But if something should be made clear about Nothing in the Soup, is that it is an amusing album. Open it, a quick look at Rashin Kheiriyeh’s illustrations will put a smile on your face. What a surprise! And what strange characters! All dressed from head to toe in black and with dark glasses… They don’t look precisely like angels, more like… and if they were… shhh… mafia?

The Iranian illustrator, captures perfectly the irreverent touch lent by Darabuc, presents some not so innocent protagonists. Also contributing with new reasons to smile, why? Is there anything more amusing than seeing such sinister characters in aprons and stirring a pot?

Simplicity is one of the characteristics of this artist’s personality collaborating with OQO editora for the first time. For this work, a palette of reduced colours was chosen, based on earthy colours, some tones from the range of greens, black or white. However, this moderation is compensated with oil paints from which rich textures are obtained and also with collage, thanks to which, gives a sense of volume to the compositions.

We cannot go without commenting on the scenario where the adventures of these three rascals take place, the Nothingthere desert. The choice of place represents a little homage on behalf of the author to the cunning in the Oriental tales, given that the Orient is the place with a greater tradition in this genre.

Once again, a revealing detail of the enormous richness hidden in this album inspired on very ancient traditions and revives for new generations a valuable cultural heritage. To this, we still have to add the author’s fresh look in creating and without prejudice these rascally characters to have us in kinks of laughter, and the illustrator, crafting the modern aesthetic of the album and of such a surprising appearance of the protagonists.

Text by Darabuc
Illustrations by Rashin Kheiriyeh
From the Spanish translation by Mark W. Heslop

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