Soul Moon Soup

Lindsay Lee Johnson

Three generations of women find the hope to rebuild their lives.

Phoebe Rose dreams of becoming an artist. But the only person who encourages her is her father, and suddenly he’s gone, “ripped away like a page from a book.” Phoebe and her mother are forced to live on the streets, dragging a suitcase with all their belongings from soup kitchen to soup kitchen, trying to get by. Homelessness nearly crushes Phoebe’s spirit and nobody notices when she stops drawing.

When the “last worst thing happens,” Phoebe’s mother sends her to live with her grandmother at Full Moon Lake. Though she misses her mother, Phoebe uses the much needed time and space to discover an inner strength that allows her to feel at home, to feed her soul, to sustain herself anywhere she goes. When her mother returns for her, Phoebe must decide whether to go back to the city or stay in the one place that has allowed her to find herself

  • Ages: 11 - 14
  • Grades: 6 - 9
  • Pages: 160

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Recent Reviews

In this volume of connected poems, Johnson crystallizes the emotions of a homeless girl.

—Publishers Weekly

This moving story is likely to inspire thought and discussion.

—School Library Journal

Its lyricism makes more than bearable this original novel's many heartbreaks.

—Horn Book

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 Then she loses all three after the suitcase is stolen, and she winds up at her grandmother’s house, so withdrawn that she even stops making pictures. .… 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.


"Told completely in verse, this novel is an interesting look at the complex dynamics between mothers and daughters. Phoebe Rose is a likable character whose struggle to make sense of her mother’s faults and limitations will likely strike a chord among youth who are just discovering their own parents’ imperfections. The prose is simple yet elegant and will appeal to middle school and junior high readers who are already fans of this genre.

—Voice of Youth Advocates

Phoebe’s story is a poignant one, especially when she’s traveling with her mother, desperate for maternal affection, and worn down by the life they lead. … Readers will be glad to see this put-upon heroine finding her own strength.

—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Lindsay Lee Johnson has created a poignant story about young Phoebe Rose who dreams of becoming an artist, but whose chaotic life is not able to sustain that aspiration. Soul Moon Soup, written as prose poetry, enables readers to gain a deeper understanding of the heartaches and triumphs of Phoebe’s life, from her father’s absence to her mother’s instability. Johnson weaves difficult issues such as homelessness, single-parent families, and relationship problems into this powerful novel.

—The Reading Teacher

Phoebe's story is told through a series of poems that elegantly capture the smells, noises, and fears that come with being on the streets and with living at Full Moon Lake with her grandmother. This is a wonderfully crafted book that is perfect for the introspective young reader.

—Children's Literature

Johnson's spare prose, which appears as verse, is poetic without straining. Its lyricism makes more bearable this novel's many heartbreaks. Superior, well above average.

—Horn Book Guide

A homeless child finds a measure of inner security, and mends fences with her weak, troubled mother, in this first novel, written in verse. When Phoebe Rose's mother sends her to live at her grandmother's house, Phoebe starts a long process of healing and rediscovers her love of drawing.

—Book Links

Honors for Soul Moon Soup

  • Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers—Voice of Youth Advocates
  • Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award —International Reading Association

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