An American child travels to Buñol, Spain, to take part in the town’s annual raucous celebration of the tomato.
La Tomatina is a large organized food fight in which residents wear goggles and spend the day throwing crushed ripe tomatoes until the streets are covered in one ruby red, pulpy mess. In an easy flowing rhyme, the narrator describes their enthusiastic participation. “ ‘Tomate, tomate,’ we hear the crowd sing. // We’re ready to squash the tomatoes and fling! / The truck moves in closer. ¡Ole?! Here we go! / Grab a tomato. Get ready…now THROW!” Cartoon illustrations depict the rowdy, frenzied event as everyone and everything is splattered and splashed in the fruit’s squishy juices. And when the loud “BOOM!” of the cannon signals the end of the fun, everyone cleans up, happy to have enjoyed another festival of the tomato. Adults and children alike may notice that despite the glee with which the text describes the mess, characters’ clothes are remarkably unstained by the end. The narrator presents white, as does much of the crowd, though it is definitely a multiethnic affair. An author’s note explains the increasingly popular event, where tourists and locals alike enjoy parades, music, fireworks, and paella, the saffron-based dish of rice and seafood.
A high-spirited celebration of a unique experience. (glossary, bibliography, websites) (Picture book. 5-8)