Join us in celebrating PLÁTANOS ARE LOVE book birthday! We sat down with Musa Alyssa Reynoso-Morris to learn all about the inspiration behind this book.
But first, a little bit about Plátanos Are Love:
A delicious picture book about the ways plantains shape Latinx culture, community, and family, told through a young girl’s experiences in the kitchen with her abuela.
Abuela says, “plátanos are love.”
I thought they were food.
But Abuela says they feed us in more ways than one.
With every pop of the tostones, mash of the mangú, and sizzle of the maduros, a little girl learns that plátanos are her history, they are her culture, and—most importantly—they are love.
And now to our interview with Alyssa:
Where did you get the idea to write this particular story?
I wanted to be a writer since I was 7 years old because I grew up with my Abuela - the original storyteller. She had a second-grade education, but that didn’t stop her from telling the best stories that captivated EVERYONE’S attention. I remember looking up to her and wanting to be like her. I think she knew that because she would rope me into “helping” her tell her stories. These are some of my fondest memories as well as the time we spent in the kitchen together. My love of my Abuela, her stories, and the food we made together inspired Plátanos Are Love.
What is the most important lesson you have learned as a writer until now?
You need a community. Writing is solitary; the query and submission process is brutal, and marketing your book is overwhelming. In order to survive and then thrive as an author, you need a community. You need writing friends that hold you accountable. You need critique partners you trust that can offer honest feedback to help you write great books. Then you need those friends to vent with while you’re on submission. As I am currently in the marketing and promotion period for Plátanos Are Love, I appreciate my community for pre-ordering it, requesting it at their local library, reviewing it, sharing my posts on social media, and subscribing to my website to stay in touch. I appreciate you all for showing up and supporting me however you can.
What message are you hoping readers will take away from this story?
Write the stories that bring you joy and that make you feel loved. When you write from that place instead of following trends your voice will shine so bright no one will be able to deny your book belongs on bookshelves. What comes next for you as an author? I have two more books coming so I will be busy promoting those too. On October 24th, 2023 my second book The Bronx Is My Home comes out, and my third book Gloriana Presente: A First Day of School Book comes out in 2024.
The Bronx Is My Home is a picture book celebration of hometown pride including the history, landscape, cuisines, cultures, and activities unique to this vibrant community. Welcome to the Bronx, New York, where you can see bodegas and businesses bustling on every street, taste the most delicious empanadas in the world, smell the salty sea air of Pelham Bay, and pet horses at the Bronx Equestrian Center. From sunrise to sunset, Santiago and Mami have many treasures to enjoy in their neighborhood on a beautiful Saturday, including colorful birds on the Siwanoy Trail and fresh cannolis on Arthur Avenue. This energetic and joyful family story offers both a journey through and a love letter to this special borough. The Bronx Is My Home is a triumphant celebration of hometown pride, as well as a heartfelt invitation to all, for readers of My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Pena, and Saturday by Oge Mora.
My third book Gloriana Presente: A First Day Of School Book is a bilingual picture book that features a Dominican American girl overcoming anxiety and finding her voice in the classroom.
What books are on your to-be-read list?
Alyssa Reynoso-Morris is a queer Afro-Latinx/e Dominican and Puerto Rican storyteller. She wears many hats - author, mother, motivational speaker, resume writer, and community organizer. Alyssa was born and raised in The Bronx, New York, and currently lives in Philadelphia, PA with her partner and daughter. During the day she works with community members, non-profit organizations, and government officials to make the world a better place. Then she puts her writer’s hat on to craft heartfelt stories about home, family, food, and the fun places she has been. She hopes you enjoy her stories.
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