Book: Bella’s Recipe for Success (2021)
Author: Ana Siqueira
Illustrator: Geraldine Rodriguez
Genre: Picture Book
Opening lines from the book …
I’m helping Abuela in the kitchen when … “I can play the piano with my eyes closed!” mi hermano brags.
MY REVIEW …
A beautifully-written book about perseverance! Poor Bella just wants to be good at something.
I love the connection with the grandmother: “We can always try again.” What a wonderful reminder. And that’s what Bella keeps doing, over and over as she tries to perfect the baking of polvorones. Of course, she has many disasters (hence the cross-out in the title), but … well, I won’t quite spoil it, but again the title is a little hint.
Love the Spanish and English throughout the text. And all the animal metaphors/similes are fun. There’s a recipe at the back so you too can try baking your own polvorones. I think I just might need to get my apron out. 🙂
INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR …
Full disclosure: Author Ana Siqueira is one of my critique partners. And I am actually one of Bella’s book godmothers or aunties or something like that. Anyhow, that’s what it feels like when you get to see a book at the earliest stages (at a time before Bella was even named Bella) and to see this book in its final form. And yes, I remember all those revisions, Ana!
Here is my interview with the wonderful writer of this book…
Q: Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you become a writer; where you’re from; that sort of thing.)
A: I’m from Brazil where I wrote and got two books published. One of them – A LUA NAMORADEIRA (THE FLIRTING MOON) got a prize from the Brazilian Academia de Letras. But this was a long time ago. I moved to this country in 1992 and then life happened and I stopped writing. I worked as an interpreter, a teacher, and a cafe owner. In 2018, I wrote a book for my 2nd-grade students based on the DUCK SONG video. I sold this book to TEACHER’S DISCOVERY and then, TA-DA, I got excited and decided to go back to writing. In 2019, I joined Storytellers Academy and some critique groups and I started my journey back to writing.
Q: What’s the best part about writing for children?
A: It’s so much fun writing, but it’s even more fun reading to them. It’s fun to hear them giggling or to reply to their questions. I can’t wait to get some more school visits.
Q: Where did you get the idea for this book?
A: This was inspired by my perfectionist daughter and many of my students. I also love reading and researching about #growthmindset and I think this is an important topic.
Q: What was the hardest thing about writing this book?
A: I have just restarted writing. Writing in Brazil in 1991 and writing here in 2019 are very different. I had to relearn writing picture books. I had to take many classes and do LOOOOTS of revisions. Thanks for always being willing to check one more revision. Hahaha.
Q: What’s the worst baking “disaster” you’ve had?
A: I enjoy cooking better than baking. But I just had a disaster when baking the polvorone recipe at the back of Bella’s book. Instead of vanilla, I put in anise and the cookie dough tasted horrible. My grandson and I laughed so much, it was worth it.
Q: What’s the first thing you baked as a child?
A: I remember being in a culinary class during my middle-grade years and baking some onion bread. I was a desastre there too. I cried so much slicing the onions. I dropped onions on the floor. I kept asking for more onions. But this is the only recipe I remember from this class. So making mistakes is a great way to really learn, right?
Q: Is there anything you’ve tried to make in the kitchen that still gives you trouble?
A: My husband loves a plate from Cuba called congri. It’s basically rice and beans cooked together. However, for some reason, sometimes my rice gets too sticky, sometimes it burns, sometimes it’s perfecto. I guess I have to keep on trying.
Q: This is your debut picture book. Explain what it’s like to finally hold this book in your hands?
A: It’s such a big emotion. OMG. You work so hard. And then… You can see it. You can hold it. You did it. Bella is almost like my child.