cover image Tomatoes in My Lunchbox

Tomatoes in My Lunchbox

Costantia Manoli, illus. by Magdalena Mora. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-250-76312-9

“I don’t recognize my name at roll call the first time. The teacher says it like it’s too hard to understand.” And when other children say it, confides the brown-skinned child narrator of this sensitively articulated picture book: “It sounds like a question every time.” Manoli, whose first name inspired this debut, offers exposition via emotional phrases that discuss how “we left the place/ where my name fit” and came to a place where “our things look weird.../ My clothes are weird.../ The whole tomato in my lunchbox is weird.” Swaths of color dominate Mora’s lushly wrought illustrations as the protagonist tries to fit in with other children, portrayed with varying skin tones. But trying to be like others “doesn’t fit me.” Soon, advice from the child’s grandmother leads to a tentative friendship, and the eventual feeling that “my name is not a question anymore.” Ages 4–8. (June)