Five kids go on a scavenger hunt to make a sleepover soup that will grant their wishes.
Seattleite Leilani is hapa haole, part white and part Hawaiian. Her goal for the sixth grade is to become one of the Haileys, the popular group in school. To show the Haileys she is fun, Leilani throws a Hawaiian luau sleepover. Unfortunately, the invitations actually go to the “DO NOT invite” list: her cousin who farts, Manga Girl (aka Tanisha), and the new boy who has selective mutism. At least her best friend, Autumn, comes too. Bored and hungry, the group decides to make great-grandmother Tutu’s recipe for sleepover soup, a magic soup that requires each of them to add a special ingredient. The scavenger hunt unveils unexpected truths about each of them. Selfors’ novel springs from the classic folktale “Stone Soup” and incorporates tidbits of Hawaiian culture and cosmology, often introduced in Tutu’s sometimes clunkily expository dialogue. Since mainlander Leilani is largely ignorant of her own culture, this didacticism works within the plot, though coverage of cosmology is relatively slight. Overall, the story models not judging others, showing empathy, and friendship. The characters are all very different—an athlete, an artist, a book lover, a child with anxiety, and a girl desperate to be included—appealing to a broad audience. Tanisha is depicted as black on the cover; the other sleepover guests seem to be white.
A good book on empathy and friendship, with some Hawaiian culture mixed in. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)