cover image Doña Esmeralda, Who Ate Everything

Doña Esmeralda, Who Ate Everything

Melissa de la Cruz, illus. by Primo Gallanosa. Orchard, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-338-75161-1

Inspired by a variation on a Filipino myth, de la Cruz’s quirky story centers a ravenous, bouffant-haired sprite who’s the answer to every finicky eater’s problem. A contemporary fairy tale set among “seven thousand/ happy islands named after King Philip of Spain,” the titular protagonist is ancient, “about the size of a toddler,” and possessed of a “voracious appetite.” Having to settle for what she can get, meal-wise, Doña Esmeralda hides under tables, consuming “children’s uneaten plates and diet soda” through dual striped straws. Lurking, slurping, and gulping, she stays small, but her straws grow monstrous to accommodate her appetite—increasing in size and scope as she grows tired of leftovers and investigates children’s favorite foods. Galanosa’s digital illustrations show children of varied abilities and skin tones, and Esmeralda channels a fancy elf in her red dress, black belt, and gold accessories, the cartoonish style alleviating fears that a leftover-craving vampire might trigger. A lumpia recipe rounds out end notes. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)