On the first day of her new school, Adelita learns that vegetables can have similarities and differences, as can new friends.
Nervous about being new, Adelita quietly observes her welcoming teacher lead a lesson on the colors, names and health benefits of vegetables. Last to take a vegetable from the teacher’s basket, Adelita is surprised by friendly Jasmine, who offers her a choice between yellow and green squash, calling them “cousins.” Reminded of her grandmother’s term, Adelita calls them “calabacitas,” and Jasmine proclaims how they rhyme with her pretty name, Adelita. The dialogue-driven text is rendered in both English and Spanish, which are separated by pictures of cooked and uncooked vegetables. The text appears opposite deeply hued, realistic classroom scenes that bring out a learning environment populated by a multicultural group of kids, including a boy in a wheelchair. Other vegetables used in Latino cuisine—cassava, malanga, yautía and sweet potato—are also woven into the discussion. As the day’s healthy-eating lesson comes to a close, friendships grow and expand into reading-circle time; Adelita and her classmates parallel a “rainbow of vegetables” as veggie friends.
The dual message of nutrition and diversity will probably find its place in today’s curriculum and can certainly augment units on food, language and culture. (Picture book. 5-8)