Wednesday, November 03, 2021




By Jasminne Mendez

Illustrations by Flor de Vita

Spanish translation by Adnaloy Espinosa


ISBN:  978-1-55885-923-4

Format:  Hardcover

Pages:  32

Imprint: Piñata Books

Ages: 4-8


Young Josefina gives up sweets for Lent and then learns how to make her Dominican family’s traditional Easter dessert.


Like all kids, Josefina loves to eat sweets. She loves warm chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven, cupcakes and candy! One night, while eating a piece of flan, Mami asks her to consider giving up sweets for Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter. “That’s impossible!” Josefina says. When Mami promises to teach her how to make her favorite dessert, habichuelas con dulce, she agrees to give it a try.


Josefina can’t wait to end her fast and eat the delicious sweet cream beans, her family’s traditional Easter dessert. While she and her mom, tías and abuela prepare the dish, they dance to merengue music and tell stories about life back in the Dominican Republic. The kitchen fills with the aromatic smells of cinnamon and sugar, but it’s the feelings of love and happiness Josefina will never forget. On Easter Sunday, when the family eats the special dessert she prepared, the girl’s grandmother proclaims, “It’s the best pot of habichuelas con dulce I’ve tasted in my life!”


This heart-warming, bilingual picture book for children shares a universal story all kids can relate to—learning about one’s culture through food, music and family stories—while focusing on a cultural tradition specific to the Dominican Republic. As a bonus, the book includes the recipe for this special dessert—in both English and Spanish!




“In her first picture book, Mendez wonderfully showcases the numerous ways that food brings Latinx—in this case, Dominican—families and communities together. Presented in both English and Spanish (via Espinosa’s translation), the author’s text forgoes flair for simple earnestness in a manner that highlights the book’s themes. Likewise, De Vita’s cozy pictures provide plenty of ideal images of family, with a diverse range of skin tones from light brown to dark brown. A stirring author’s note and a recipe for habichuelas con dulce wrap up a pretty sweet tale.”—Kirkus Reviews


JASMINNE MENDEZ is a Dominican-American poet, playwright and award-winning writer. She is the author of a memoir, Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poetry (Arte Público, 2018), and a multi-genre memoir, Island of Dreams (2013), winner of an International Latino Book Award. Josefina’s Habichuelas / Las habichuelas de Josefina is her first picture book for children. She lives and works in Houston, Texas.


FLOR DE VITA, a native of Veracruz, Mexico, has illustrated two picture books: When Julia Danced Bomba / Cuando Julia bailaba bomba (Piñata Books, 2019) and Just One Itsy Bitsy Little Bite / Sólo una mordidita chiquitita (Piñata Books, 2018). A graduate of the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey with a B.A. in Animation and Digital Art, she currently resides in Jalisco, Mexico.


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