Tomatoes for Neela

Viking. Aug. 2021. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593202708.
K-Gr 3–Cookbook author and television host Lakshmi celebrates the connection a child feels with her mother and grandmother through the process of making tomato sauce. Neela’s paati lives in India, but her presence is felt, from her portrait on the wall, to her collection of recipes that will one day be Neela’s, to the taste of the sauce itself. At the green market and back home in the kitchen, Neela’s mother teaches her about the different kinds of tomatoes, the best time of year to buy them, and how tomatoes traveled from the New World to Europe. With all of the sauce canned, Neela saves one jar at the very back of the cupboard for her paati’s winter visit. There isn’t much of a story arc here, but the intergenerational warmth and pleasure in cooking together are palpable. The lovely illustrations, created with acrylic and colored pencil on textured paper, are delicately ornamented with salmon-pink flowers and soft, blue-green leaves that emphasize the sweetness of Neela’s interactions with her mother. Back matter includes two recipes, fun tomato facts, and a note that honors farmworkers.
VERDICT Part informational, part family story, this attractive book will speak to young kitchen helpers and those with loved ones in far-off places.

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