Review by Booklist Review
In this heartwarming story of a family from the Dominican Republic that migrated to New York City, every dish revolves around one essential ingredient that is prominent in their country of origin: plátanos. Young and inquisitive Yesenia describes the loving meaning behind Mami's recipes, sharing that her "stories are the secret ingredient in all her yummy food." Yesenia learns about her history and traditions as they tie into the meaning of love, family, identity, and pride. Aromas also lead her to recall memories she has of her parents, noting that "the smell of their wishes is everywhere in our apartment." Norman's poetic lines use lyrical figures that make her subject sing: "Plátanos are like golden slices of this afternoon's sun on our dinner plate," and "Plátanos are warm hello kisses from Abuela." That poetic approach in the telling of the story ties in beautifully with the illustrations, highlighting the varying skin tones and features of her family members, the dynamic scenes of their environment, and Yesenia's inviting home. The delicious recipe is a sweet note to end on.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Prompted by a family's love of plátanos, this simile-laden embrace of Dominican culture twines food and story. "Plátanos are like golden slices of this afternoon's sun," Yesenia says, helping her mother prepare dinner while Mami "shares stories about life in the Dominican Republic before my older brother... and I were born." Linking past and present, Mami's tellings are "the secret ingredient in all her yummy food." She says, "Back home, plátanos grow upward... their feet are always reaching for the stars," and now they're "like warm hello kisses from Abuela," who lived with Yesenia's family after arriving in the U.S. And they're "a love letter from the Dominican Republic," too, as the family pursues "Mami's dream of owning a house with a garden... Papi's hope for a quiet office to write his poetry." Norman works this ode into a well-rooted family story that expands upon the food's power as a "magical cure," a "superpower," and a "fiesta." Palacios's green and gold plátanos-colored digital illustrations capture the dance of life mid-spin. A bilingual English-Spanish edition publishes simultaneously. Ages 4--8. (Jan.)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
PreS-Gr 3--Yesenia loves to spend time with her mother, making the Dominican treats their whole family loves. While the chicken, rice, and beans are cooking, they turn to plátanos, which look like the sun on the plates. "Plátanos are like warm hello kisses from Abuela," who arrives with Abuelo, and lived with Yesenia when they first moved to the United States. "Crispy, salt-sprinkled tostones" remind her of Papa's wish for a quiet office where he can write his poetry, and Mami says that serving food to visitors is their way of saying "Welcome! We're glad you're here." Palacios's vivid illustrations capture a very loving and colorful New York City where this family is starting a new life, and where they have brought the scents of home with them and made them a part of every day. The corner store where they buy more plátanos, which smell like wishes going into the air and the window, remind Yesenia of the home and here at the same time. The writing maintains a childlike perspective but is never less than lyrical; as the narrator names triumph after triumph and cure after cure the plantains have accomplished, readers will be convinced that they, too, need more of this magic in their own lives. VERDICT A welcoming paean to home, recipes, and family, and although the emphasis is the Dominican Republic, there are few whose mouths will not water over these pages. A feast for cultural sharing, awakening, and creating.--Kimberly Olson Fakih
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
Good stories and mouthwatering food go hand in hand in this heartwarming tale about a Dominican family. Yesenia, a child with brown skin and curly brown hair, helps Mami prepare food in the kitchen and asks, "Why do Dominicans love plátanos so much?" Mami explains that plátanos, also called plantains, help their family feel connected to their homeland and to each other. Yesenia points out that "plátanos are like a love letter from the Dominican Republic," where Mami lived before Yesenia was born. Yesenia describes the different plátano-based dishes, both sweet and savory, that the family enjoys together. From maduros to tostones to mangú, Yesenia takes readers on a sensory and culinary journey, describing the feelings that these foods elicit. Yesenia recalls feeling comforted by a sweet plátano treat after a misstep at school. Older brother Kendry insists that plátanos are responsible for baseball successes by his favorite Dominican players. And plátanos make Yesenia think of the love poems Papi recites to Mami. Narrated by Yesenia in the first person, the text brims with child appeal. Bright, inviting illustrations welcome readers into the warm embrace of family and food. The back cover of the book includes a tasty recipe for mangú de plátano (mashed plantains) so that readers can enjoy their own plátanos. (This book was reviewed digitally.) Illuminates the significance of the humble plátano with delicious detail. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.