Empanadas for Everyone

S. & S. Aug. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781665914581.
PreS-Gr 2–Carina looks forward to taking the subway every weekend to visit her aunt’s bustling barrio and make Tia Mimi’s famous empanadas. This Saturday, however, her aunt is volunteering at the community food center. She leaves Carina a note asking her to prep the ingredients for the savory treats. With the encouragement of her Mami, Carina picks up coriander, achiote, and beef from the neighbors. Along the way, she’s reminded of both the universality and diversity of the empanada. The neighbors introduce her to samosas, Jamaican patties, dumplings, and pierogis. The importance of community and what unites its members shine through on every page. Friendly storefronts line the blocks. The music of the stories being told on the sidewalks mesh with car horns, kids’ laughter, and the made-up song that Carina and Tia Mimi dance along to while they cook: “¡Me gusta empanadas! ¡Me gustas tu!” Wen’s pleasant digital illustrations are done in warm browns and yellows, and the soft lines add to the cozy setting. The main characters are Latinx and have brown skin. A wordless spread featuring Carina and her new friends marching to the Meal Center with yummy snacks at hand, a display table, and a recipe for Puerto Rican empanadas will have readers’ mouths watering at the book’s close. An author’s note discusses Kramer’s connections to the different types of empanadas mentioned and the importance of access to nutritious foods.
VERDICT Shelve alongside Oge Mora’s Thank You, Omu! and include in food-themed story times. Be sure to bring snacks!

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