Phillis Gershator

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Sweet fig banana jacket


illustrated by Fritz Millevoix

Whitman,  1996

*CLASP Américas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature, commended title

A little about the book--and a recipe:

     In St. Thomas, where I live, I worked as school librarian in an elementary school near Market Square. I would see one of the students hanging out after school with his mother. She was a market lady who sold lottery tickets, fruit, and candies from a jar. That scene planted the seed for this story. I also had the joyful experience of watching banana plants grow in our yard. Unfortunately, right before this book came out, the islands were hit by a gigantic hurricane named Marilyn. The storm knocked down all of our banana plants--and blew our roof away, too. But that story has a happy ending. After we got a new roof, we planted new bananas, sweet fig bananas, our favorite kind.

     Everybody says an apple a day keeps the doctor away. So does a banana! What a beautiful fruit! But if you end up with too many bananas, try drinking them:

(a milkshake)

1 cup low fat milk
1/3 to 1/2 cup banana
dash vanilla
dash cinnamon

Blend in blender until smooth.

     If you happen to have ripe papaya, try this with payaya instead of banana, and add 1 teaspoon sugar. After it’s blended, payaya lechosa gets thicker and thicker. If it sits for awhile, it gets too thick to drink! (But you can eat it with a spoon, like custard.) A papaya and banana combo is best of all.

     If you still have too many bananas, you can always peel and freeze them.
Cut-up frozen bananas work fine when you make lechosa.

From the reviews:

“Gershator pens a sweet, sweet tale....” Kirkus

“With its rhythmic cadences, dialect, and exotic details, this story offers a pleasant slice of island life.” School Library Journal

“Both story and art are alive with the flavor of the islands....the pictures shimmer with the azure blues of sea and sky, the verdant greens of the trees, and the brilliant oranges, purples, and roses of the flowers. No matter where they live, children will understand Soto and feel close to him.” Booklist