Plátanos Are Love

Atheneum. Apr. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781665902731.
PreS-Gr 2–Esme and her abuela cook different dishes with plátanos, which can be found in many Latin American cuisines, while bonding over shared history and familial love. Plantains, and all the dishes they are used in, are delicious, but they mean more to Esme’s family and culture than something to eat—“Abuela says they feed us in more ways than one.” The grandmother shares with Esme and her little sister how plantains are the food of their ancestors; recipes were passed down in secret, because the formerly enslaved weren’t allowed to read or write. The trio make tostones, maduros, and mangú for family and friends, and the love that goes into making each meal can be felt in every word and image in this joyous work. Sprinkled throughout with Spanish words, the narrative is lyrical and filled with fun food words that often appear in a different font and beg to be read aloud. The Spanglish isn’t awkward, keeping in line with Spanish-language syntax. The illustrations are luminous, with the warm browns and yellows of the cooked plátanos and the greens of the peels as a motif. Tropical pinks and blues also shine through. The skin color of the characters are shades of brown, and the little girl’s family members’ different hair textures and hair styles reflect the diversity of Latin America. Recipes for the three dishes mentioned in the book are included in the back matter in addition to a glossary.
VERDICT A stunning, must-have picture book about food, community, and love.

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