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Tomatoes for Neela

Juana Martinez-Neal

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    • Title: Tomatoes for Neela
    • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
    • Release Date: August 31, 2021
    • Author: Padma Lakshmi
    • Illustrator: Juana Martinez-Neal
    • Age Level: 3-7, 40 pages
    • ISBN: 978-0-5932-0270-8

Padma Lakshmi, bestselling author and host of Bravo’s Top Chef and Hulu’s Taste the Nation,and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal team up in this celebration of food and family.

Neela loves cooking with her amma and writing down the recipes in her notebook. It makes her feel closer to her paati who lives far away in India. On Saturdays, Neela and Amma go to the green market and today they are buying tomatoes to make Paati’s famous sauce. But first, Neela needs to learn about all the different kinds of tomatoes they can pick from. And as Neela and Amma cook together, they find a way for Paati to share in both the love and the flavors of the day.

Bestselling author and host of Bravo’s Top Chef and Hulu’s Taste the Nation Padma Lakshmi takes young readers on an intergenerational journey full of delicious flavors and fun food facts that celebrates a family’s treasured recipes. And Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal brings this circle of women to life with vivid detail and warmth. Tomatoes for Neela lovingly affirms how we can connect to other cultures, as well as to our own, through food.


A note about farm workers reminds readers that what is on our plates is political. Exquisite illustrations by Caldecott Honor Book author-illustrator Martinez-Neal make this title one that belongs front and center on shelves everywhere.

In acrylic paint and colored pencil, Caldecott Honoree Martinez-Neal contributes warmly expressive, toothsome spreads that emphasize food, family, and the natural world (…) the sweet, lushly illustrated tale succeeds in showing the importance of food as connection (…)

Martinez-Neal’s warmly textured, beautifully detailed illustrations are the perfect celebration of intergenerational love.

The paired warmth of words and images is as cozy as a bowl of Paati’s sauce. Caldecott Honoree and Sibert Medalist Martinez-Neal’s (Alma and How She Got Her Name; Fry Bread) distinctive acrylic paint and colored pencil work fills dappled spreads brimming with carnelian flowers, steam curls and whimsical portraiture. Expressive Neela exudes confidence and joy as she cooks with her amma, Mother and daughter’s gentle curves and rosy cheeks mimicking the bountiful fruit they relish.

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