A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Lots of information about tomatoes: varieties, where they came from, how to cook them, and more.
Cooking brings people together. Celebrate your culture and heritage.
Positive Role Models
There's tremendous warmth between Neela and her amma, and lots of love for her extended family.
Neela's Indian American culture and family history are celebrated and centered in the story.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tomatoes for Neela is a mouth-watering picture book by Padma Lakshmi, creator and host of Hulu's Taste the Nation and host and executive producer of the Emmy-winning Bravo series Top Chef. It's full of affection for family traditions and flavor, with gorgeous images on every page. The illustrations by Juana Martinez-Neal are warm and inviting, and when combined with luscious descriptions of smells and textures, can make for some very hungry readers. The gentle pace of the story, sharing family history along with the history of tomatoes in cultures around the world, has a nice rhythm for reading aloud, and there's a good message about eating foods that are in season. The recipes for tomato sauce and tomato chutney have lots of detail and are simple enough for kids to follow. The end of the book has information about the lives of farmworkers, facts about tomatoes, and a note from author Lakshmi.
Is It Any Good?
By the time readers get to the recipes late in this mouthwatering story, the gorgeous illustrations and flavor descriptions make it practically impossible not to want a tomato, or a jar of sauce. In Tomatoes for Neela, readers see how food forms a special bond between generations, and they can think about how that works in their own families, what they love to cook for each other. The history in the book gives context and surprising depth, and two things about how tomatoes arrive at our table stand out: the mention of the difficult work farm laborers do to plant and harvest food, and the idea of eating food when it's in season.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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