Interview with Jean Petersen, author of Kind Soup:
Congratulations on writing this story “Kind Soup” for children! Let’s talk about it …
Alexis: Why did you write this story?
Jean: I wrote this story as a framework for children to not only learn about the Fruits of the Spirit listed in Scripture, but as an opportunity to look around us and see how many things we have and work that are chances to develop and live in the virtues daily. There are simple ways to show kindness, love, joy, peace, patience, self-control, faithfulness, and gentleness throughout our days, and sometimes we don’t even know we’re sharing these values. Writing this book was a way to share an intentional and impactful example of sharing the Fruits of the Spirit.
Alexis: Who are you hoping to reach with this story? Why?
Jean: The book is written for children, with target ages Kindergarten through third grade, however I have many younger and older readers of all ages who have shared their interest and love of the book. The target audience’s age is centered within a time formidable learning for children. However, it’s a great reminder to readers of all ages about these virtues, and their gifts that help us, and others through our journeys and adventures together.
Alexis: I think that the concept of “soup made with fruit” as a tie-in to the Bible-based “Fruit of the Spirit” is pure genius! What (or who) inspired you with this concept?
Jean: Thank you! I was inspired as my children and I were making our homemade chicken soup. I tend to create characteristics and silly antics with animals, nature and other objects, just to have fun with our children. When we dropped the chunks of chicken into the stock pot one afternoon, they bubbled and bounced in the hot water. It made think of ‘Joy’ as the chunks bubbled up and down. We were also making a batch of soup to share, and the ideas kept rolling from there with the story.
Alexis: Why did you choose Kate and her Mom to be the main characters of this story?
Jean: I used these two characters ultimately, however I had started out with a brother and sister, and additional family characters being introduced. My story began to get too long, and off target. So I revised, and I removed those additional characters. I also have several additional children’s books penned incorporating fathers and sons, groups of boys and girls, mothers and sons, and fathers and daughters. So I knew I had a couple opportunities to showcase those relationships and their development.
Alexis: Describe the personalities and heart of Kate and her Mom. What do they look like?
Jean: Kate is a curious little girl, filled with kindness and acceptance, hope, joy and wonder. Her mom has a heart to share a deeper meaning to a task, and story the themes of the virtues, but also the depth of having a friend in Jesus as the one who taught her the lessons found in the book. She is kind, happy, patient, loving, faithful and humble.
Alexis: In what ways do you hope that real-life mommies and their baby girls will bond as they read this story together?
Jean: My hope is that mommies and their littles will develop a love for being together in the simple moments. Sometimes cooking can feel routine and mundane, but when you’re intentional, creative and put God at the center it takes the ordinary to extraordinary. Kind Soup is a multi-layered book, also. There’s the opportunity to share random acts of kindness, along with spreading the ‘Fruits of the Spirit’ in many ways, and there’s the part of the ‘friend’ in Jesus that the momma talks about who taught her. Having our children and readers know that they have a friend in Jesus is important. He’s with us in every action, supports us, cheers us on, and smiles with us, as our Friend, when we share the goodness of Him that’s indwelling in us. There’s also the community spirit of getting out and helping others. Through our actions, we can be a light for someone, no matter the size of the gesture...doing something for another helps them as well as us.
Alexis: Is this story for boys and their daddies to read together too? In what ways do you make this story relatable to males?
Jean: This is a very applicable read for anyone. When I read it in school and public events, the boys love to talk about how they cook with their Dads, or that they go to their neighbors to help shovel snow. It gives me such joy to listen to them share how they each resonate the concepts within the story.
Alexis: Describe the setting for this story. What makes it special?
Jean: The setting is a warm and cozy kitchen filled with the aroma of homemade soup wafting throughout the air. It’s a place that resonates the ‘feel’ of the fruit of the Spirit. There’s love between the characters, joy in the moments together, peace as they learn and work together, patience when they’re preparing the soup and taking it out into the community, kindness in their heart for each other and those they want to share their goodness they’ve prepared, self-control in equipping themselves as they make the soup and carry it beyond their home, and faithfulness as Kate finds the most important part of making the soup, and how the Jesus is at the heart of it all from the very first idea and ingredient, to the last friend it was shared with, and Kate realizing who her friend is and how much of a friend He was to her mommy too.
Alexis: What life lessons are you trying to teach the children who read this story?
Jean: The life lessons are how to incorporate the Fruits of the Spirit in everyday life, and Jesus is at the heart of it all. These virtues are fostered and grow with us, and the more we fill ourselves with Holy water, the more these grow and spread to those around us. We can share them, as they have been shared with us, in many ways and on any given day. Why? Because that what the good Lord has asked us to do, to be a light for Him.
Alexis: In what ways did you pray yourself through writing this book?
Jean: I began this book praying this scripture, Galatians 5:22-23, and it truly developed from there, notebook and pencil I started writing. I did not realize how much I would lean onto this scripture as the book developed, and it became the heartbeat of the whole process.
Alexis: How does your real-life faith in God affect your storytelling?
Jean: The good Lord prompts me strongly to write, and He weaves the characters and scenes into play. Many times, as I write my weekly children’s column, I start with a base idea, and the words just come freely and create the story that is meant to be told for the week I am writing. The good Lord weaves the story, and I just write it down.
Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about this book?
Jean: Kindness, Love, Learning, Jesus and Togetherness
Alexis: Thanks for the interview! Would you like to share closing comments?
Jean: Thank you so much! This has been an honor. I truly appreciate your interest in Kind Soup, and your time.
Jean Petersen is a Montana author, freelance writer, and columnist. She is the author of award-winning books, Kind Soup, a children's picture book published by Little Lamb Books, and The Big Sky Bounty Cookbook-Local Ingredients and Rustic Recipes cookbook published by Arcadia Publishing and The History Press. She and her family live on a small farm near the Beartooth Mountains in southern Montana.
About the Book:
Soup made with fruit? Yes, please!
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control–it's these traditional Fruits of the Spirit that Kate and her Mom are cooking up in the kitchen today.
An ordinary day in the kitchen turns into a celebration of the extraordinary gifts that Jesus offers not just to Kate and her mom, but to all of us as well. Kind Soup is wrapped in prayer and ladled out with love.
This divine recipe is as much a joy to make as it is to share and invites readers to pour, mix, and stir, while each spread features a Bible verse to reflect on and memorize.
Kind Soup is a treasure that will encourage and inspire families for generations to come.
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