Yoyo’s mother says that no fair price for bitterleaf stew can be refused; to do so risks angering Brother Coin, the Great Spirit of the Market.
After rushing her preparations, the Cameroonian girl turns down a customer who offers ten-ten say-fah for her poor concoction (her mother says it’s fit only for the goats), instead of the usual fifty-fifty paid for Mama Cécile’s excellent stew. Their luck sours, and Yoyo decides that she must appease Brother Coin. When she does so, she witnesses a scary sight. The god, a caricature of a greedy man, refuses his blessing to a beseeching merchant and makes him disappear. Yoyo then uses her market bowl to make a perfect portion of bitterleaf stew. Brother Coin laps up the dish after making a hurried blessing only at the girl’s insistence. In a confusing ending, the Great Spirit says he still will not grant wishes, but gives Yoyo back her special bowl, used for collecting coins at their stall. The girl miraculously arrives at home, and mother and daughter now prosper due to Yoyo’s change of character. The slightly satiric edge of the images, combining deeply colored acrylic paintings with collage in Photoshop, creates a contemporary look for this original tale. Adapted recipe included.
Although the text lacks the heft of traditional folklore, the author/illustrator draws on his Peace Corps background to cook up a cautionary, but tasty look at life in Cameroon. (Picture book. 6-8)