for Children's and Young Adult
Literature, commended title
his island home in the Caribbean,
Soto has planted a fig banana. First
the leaves unfurl: then a purple
flower hangs down, and at last the
little bananas appear. Soto's mother
cuts them down at just the right
moment––before the tree
rat and the thrushee can eat them!
will happen to these sweet bananas?
Soto's mother wants to sell them in
Market Square, where she and Soto go
every week. But these are Soto's
bananas, and he has plans to give
them to three special friends.
Gershator's lively island tale is
accompanied by Fritz Millevoix's
bright, primitive paintings. The
author lives on St. Thomas in the
Virgin Islands. The illustrator,
born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, now
lives in Illinois.
little about the book:
Thomas, I worked as school librarian
at 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
Everybody says an apple a day keeps
the doctor away. So does a banana!
What a beautiful and healthy fruit!
Ripe bananas are good raw, baked,
dried, in cakes, cookies, muffins,
sandwiches (peanut butter, raisins,
and banana, yum).
If you end up with too many bananas,
try drinking them:
(a "smoothie" or milkshake)
1 cup low fat milk
1/3 to 1/2 cup banana
Blend in blender until
you happen to have ripe papaya,
try this with papaya instead of
banana, and add 1 teaspoon sugar.
After it’s blended, papaya 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.
still have too many bananas, you can
always peel and freeze them.
Cut-up frozen bananas work fine when
you make lechosa.
“Gershator pens a sweet, sweet
When Soto's banana shoot grows into a
strong, tall plant, the fruit soon
follows, and he and his mother sell
them at market. Thought they sell
well, enough remain that Soto is able
to repay the kindness of the hat man,
the fraico man, and the
librarian with three "hands" of
bananas. The Caribbean island comes to
life through the lively cadence of the
text and vibrant colors of the
primitive art." Recommended, The
Horn Book Guide
“With its rhythmic cadences, dialect,
and exotic details, this story offers
a pleasant slice of island life.” School
“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
"....Soto's tending of the banana
plant serves as a metaphor for the
type of tending that often occurs for
Caribbean children; his concern over
his plant mimics the concern the
adults show him. In Soto's case the
fruit borne is his learning how to
read and how to give back to his
community. Millevoix's vibrant
primitive-style paintings work well in
depicting the lush Caribbean
setting...." MultiCultural Review
"...suitable for reading to young
children and for second and third
graders to read for themselves.
Conversation is in island creole, and
"local knowledge" both social and
botanical will add to youngsters'
enjoyment of the story. Subtle
teaching points emerge––the payoff for
patience and Soto's returning of a
kindness to several people who go out
of their way to be nice to him....a
delightful book...." The Island
Trader, St. Thomas