Let me fix you a plate A tale of two kitchens

Elizabeth Lilly

Book - 2021

A girl describes her family's annual visit with Mamaw and Papaw in West Virginia, then Abuela and Abuelo in Florida, especially the foods and cultural elements that make each kitchen unique.

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Picture books
New York : Neal Porter Books/Holiday House [2021]
First edition
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 23 x 29 cm
Ages 4-8
Grades K-1
Main Author
Elizabeth Lilly (author)
Review by Booklist Review

A weeklong family road trip begins with a Friday-evening drive to Dad's parents in West Virginia, where plates of Mamaw's food await the tired travelers. For the next three days, Mamaw's kitchen is the hub of activity for conversation, coffee, and banana pudding. From there, the family to visit Mom's parents and other relatives in Florida. Abuela offers them a midnight feast of tostones, arroz, and flan. The next day they pick oranges, fry corn-flour cakes, and learn some Spanish; evenings are filled with food, drink, and dancing. After a long drive home, the family snacks on midnight waffles before drifting off to sleep. Drawing from her own childhood growing up in a mixed family, Lilly's celebration of kinfolk emphasizes the role food plays in demonstrating love, transmitting culture, and cementing happy memories. The brightly colored illustrations in pen and ink, colored pencil, and marker depict the many and varied personalities in this group and include many setting details, such as Mamaw's cat plates and Abuelo's frog figurines. The endpapers visually encapsulate the story (roads from home to West Virginia in the front, from Florida to home at the back) and several spreads depict activity both inside and outside the house. Pleasingly lyrical and quirky, Lilly demonstrates the lasting potential of the family road trip.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

A road trip leads to two different kitchens--and a shared kind of love--as a narrator, two sisters, and their parents visit their grandparents. After "hours and hours" of driving from their city home, the car arrives in the "cool, dark night" of rural West Virginia, where the children's white paternal grandparents live. Mamaw serves them breakfast the next morning: "sausage sizzling in the skillet, blackberry jam on toast, and tractors on cups." Three days later, the family heads to Florida and the children's Latinx maternal grandparents: "Hay comidita adentro. Comense," Abuela says; "There's food inside. Come and eat." In West Virginia, the quiet house holds only Mamaw and Papaw; in Florida, "aunts and cousins and uncles and neighbors talk over each other above my head" while eating tostones and arroz and flan. Lilly's sharp eye notes the way the parents respond to being home ("my mom still laughing") and to leaving it ( Daddy "missing... quiet mountain tops"). With clear, bighearted text and an expressive ink line drawing the variously shaped bodies of her characters, Lilly (Geraldine) pays tribute to familial richness across generations and cultures. Ages 4--8. (Sept.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 2--Lilly's second picture book is full of warmth, good food, and most importantly, the love of grandparents and extended family. A young girl and her family leave their home in the city after school one Friday and drive for "hours and hours" to visit grandparents in two distinct locales. Traveling first to the mountains of West Virginia, the narrator and her sisters are welcomed late at night to Mamaw and Papaw's house with the greeting of "Let me fix you a plate." After several days in the mountains with her father's white family they travel to Florida where they are greeted by their Spanish-speaking Abuela who invites them in with "Hay comidita adentro. Comense. There's food inside. Come and eat." The warmth and love of the family and their relatives is abundantly clear in colors and lines that evoke emotion and details of the two different cultures that are also similar to one another. The end papers are full of details that invite readers to think about the artifacts that are part of their family's heritage. This title would be an ideal writing or art prompt for students to encourage them to share stories of the cultures that comprise their family. VERDICT With rich sensory details in the text to accompany detailed and inviting illustrations, this title is a wonderful and celebratory addition to all library shelves.--John Scott, Baltimore County P.S.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Horn Book Review

Colombian American author-illustrator Lilly takes readers along on a family road trip in this "tale of two kitchens" (and two cultures) that goes from the mountains of West Virginia to "a little orange house on a patch of scratchy grass" in Florida. Once a year, our young narrator and her family (parents, siblings, and dog) pile into their minivan and drive "for hours and hours" to visit the two sides of their extended family. First stop: Mamaw and Papaw's house, where they share sausages and blackberry jam on toast for breakfast and make banana pudding together. When they arrive at Abuela and Abuelo's place three days later, it's a midnight feast of arroz and tostones with all the relatives. Alongside annual traditions, everyday rituals reconnect each parent to their family of origin -- in Mamaw's kitchen, Papaw and the narrator's father drink their coffee the same way, out of matching cups; in Abuela's kitchen, we see "my mom and her mom, cooking and chatting together" -- so that when the week is over, the family heads back to their home in the city with "tummies full, hearts fuller." Layering color and shadow over a loose pen-and-ink line, Lilly's illustrations convey warmth, atmosphere, and a wealth of detail. Front and back endpapers trace the landscape of the journey and spotlight special items from each of the two homes, some of which, readers will note, find their way into one more kitchen: this blended family's own. Anamaria Anderson September/October 2021 p.72(c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

A feast for the eyes prepared in kitchens brimming with familial love. Three children with light-brown skin and dark brown hair join their parents (Mommy resembles the kids; Daddy's White) on a family vacation. They drive first to West Virginia mountains filled with misty morning fog, Papaw's coffee with cream but no sugar, and Mamaw's vanilla wafer cookies. A few days later, they proceed to a little orange house in Florida with Spanish-speaking Abuela and Abuelo and naranjas to pick. Each set of grandparents greets the family with open arms, a welcoming kitchen, and familiar, comforting interactions that demonstrate a persistent closeness despite miles and time apart. Though the visits are short, the experiences are deep and continue to resonate throughout the long drive home. The journey is told on multiple levels across pictures and text that entice readers, like the mouthwatering portrayals of home-cooked meals prepared and served by two extended families and two cultures. Lilly's loose yet warm illustration style, awash in a rainbow of colors and textures, captures the love in these families. A third, hybrid kitchen is revealed at home, when the family returns and mixes the journey's experiences into a big plate of waffles to be gobbled up before bed. Various important family items are portrayed and labeled throughout the book to encourage readers to go back and find them in the story. A storytelling feast for the whole family, no matter where you live. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.