Magaly loves her grandmother (newly living with her family) from Cuba. She loves her grandmother’s Cuban dishes. She loves speaking Spanish with her grandmother. But when she asks her grandmother what is for dinner one day, she gets the answer of “ropa vieja.” Which she understands to mean (in her decent, but second language, Spanish) Old Clothes for Dinner?! And since she cannot find her favorite sweater, nor her brother his favorite striped shirt (loved and worn so much there are holes in them) well, she is very very much not looking forward to dinner. Later, of course, she learns (to the amusement of her family, herself and probably even the reader) that it means that it looks like old shredded clothes and really is not made of clothes.
This book mixes things up within the culture. The family dynamic is delightful and the story seems simple, but has more to it then at first glance. Nathalie Alonso was inspired by her own family’s Cuban heritage to show the relationship family and food has. And then all of this is cutely illustrated by illustrator Natalia Rojas Castro. The colors are fun and the images creative.
The extras at the end include: other creative food names from around the world (who knew there were so many?), facts about Cuba, Spanish vocabulary, and two recipes for ropa vieja and arroz con leche.. Due in March 2024 (and I read via online reader copy) I plan on preordering a few copies to send to friends, family and to donate to my locale library.