Illustrations by Marjorie Priceman
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 22, 2015
It's Christmas Eve and Mami wants to make a Christmas roast just like she remembers from Puerto Rico. The feast may never come when the roast won't fit in their small apartments oven. Jose and Papa decide to take their roast to the local pizzeria to see if they will cook the roast for them. As they walk down the stairs of their apartment one can see that the residents of this building have clearly not in the Christmas spirit. Yet when they return a few hours later with a cooked roast, the smell of such a feast lifts the spirits of everyone they pass. Soon, Mami's house is full of cheer just like back home in Puerto Rico.
Ah the first Christmas book review of the season and what a one to start on. Although this is set during Christmas it could very well have been set at any time. At its core this is the story of friendship, community, and how all of those things can be brought together with food. It is also a story of longing and homesickness. Mami doesn't just want a good Christmas, she wants to provide her family with the kind of Christmas she remembers from her childhood. This is a sentiment that I can relate to as I am the kind of person who clings to holiday traditions, even the ones that may seem silly to some people.
A great deal of emphasis is placed on the multi-cultural nature within this community, which was both believable and refreshing. The illustrations are bright and lively and I swear as I read it, I too could smell that cooked roast.