Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Today's read... Empanadas for Everyone by Jackie

Today's read launches a several week peek at picture books surrounding food...not that I'll only by doing these. But for some reason, I have quite a few 'yummy' books in my up-coming pile. I'm excited to dive in because I've already noticed that more than a few of these hold recipes at the end. So, readers can dive in and try the food themselves. Plus, it's a great way to add an activity after a read.

Anyway, let's start with empanadas because...well, I do enjoy food...

by Jackie Azua Kramer
Illustrated by Lenny Wen
Simon & Schuster
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

In the vein of Thank You, Omu! and Bilal Cooks Daal comes a lyrical and nourishing tale about the importance of food to a community—and value of community to the experience of cooking—as told through the eyes of a young girl helping her tía.

Every Saturday, Carina visits Tía Mimi in her barrio, which is always humming with life. There is música that hums from the windows, old cuentos floating on the breeze, and the honking of cars that creates the soundtrack of the morning. Every Saturday, she loves to make empanadas with her aunt, “I like empanadas! I like you! ¡Me gustan las empanadas! ¡Me gustas tú!”

Not this Saturday though. This Saturday, Tía Mimi has gone to volunteer at the neighborhood food center and asks Carina to collect the ingredients all on her own. But maybe, with a little guidance from friends, Carina will be able to help Tía Mimi—and learn a little about what connects a community along the way.

GOODREADS    /     AMAZON    /    B&N     /     BOOKSHOP


Food, music, and helping others... it's a magical mix to create this fun read.

Carina visits her Tia Mimi every Saturday, and together, they create Empanadas. It's always an experience thanks to the lively neighborhood, Mimi's music, and the delicious ingredients they collect from various places throughout the neighborhood. One day, Tia Mimi decides to volunteer at the neighborhood food center and requests that Carina create the empanadas, while Tia Mimi will join her later to eat them. But Carina isn't sure she's up to the task.

This is a sweet read with tons of family love, neighborly friendliness, and good feelings pure. The text is just the right amount to create a nice read-aloud and lets the tale come to life right along with the lively and enjoyable illustrations. The good vibes radiate from every page and leave a sense of warmth, especially with the inspiring ending. 

Carina's character is inviting, and I can't think of anyone who wouldn't want a relative like Tia Mimi. When Carina tries to make the empanadas, her hesitation comes across naturally and sympathetically. Listeners will be anxious right along with her. 

Then, there are the several messages. Not only does this book keep the atmosphere lively with good food and the ability to enjoy life, but shows readers that they can accomplish more than they think they can. The ending, of course, adds a special dose of goodness with a scene of working together and helping others. Plus, there's a recipe at the end so readers can create (with a little help) their own. It's an all-around lovely read with the illustrations to match.

And here they are...

Jackie Azúa Kramer studied acting and voice at New York University and earned her MA at Queens College for counseling in education. Jackie has worked as an actor, singer, and school counselor. Her work with children presented her with an opportunity to address their concerns, secrets, and hopes through storytelling. Now she spends her time writing children’s picture books. Jackie’s books include the award-winning The Green Umbrella (a Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year), If You Want to Fall AsleepThe Boy and the Gorilla, and Empanadas for Everyone. Jackie lives with her family in Long Island, New York. When not writing, you’ll find Jackie reading, watching old movies, and travelling to her family’s roots in Ecuador, Puerto Rico, and Spain.

Lenny Wen is an author and illustrator who was born in Indonesia. She is the illustrator of several picture books, such as Cal Everett’s Halloween Is Coming!, Amy Robach and Andrew Shue’s Better Together!, and Jackie Azúa Kramer’s Empanadas for Everyone. Lenny currently lives in Austria. When she is not illustrating or writing, you might find her staring at the trees, contemplating story ideas, reading books, filling up her cup with coffee, or hugging her dog.

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