Tomatoes for Neela
This book written by Padma Lakshmi and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal deserves a shout out. I really love how Padma Lakshmi introduces the concept of intergenerational journey to readers. This story will navigate readers into many different directions – the love for cooking and altruism – preparing food for family develops traits of altruism which is an important value to cultivate for the young people.
The character Neela enjoys cooking with her mum, especially when using her grandmother's recipe. My little readers learned so much about tomatoes and asked insightful questions about the history of using and cultivating tomatoes. I really appreciate Padma Lakshmi’s focal point of the story – memories and generational connections. The message my students took away from the book was that spending time and energy to cook with someone creates special bonds and memories. The intimacy and closeness between Neela and her mum made my students want to cook with their mum or dad. They could see the expression of love and care for each other. Two thumbs up for this book!