HOW DO I KNOW SUMMER IS HERE?
Summer everywhere has its own scents--ripening fruit in the middle of the table, sweet-smelling, blooming trees everywhere in the neighborhood. But when Lola comes for her summer visit, there are new smells in the kitchen--like mango preserves that simmer fragrantly on the stove, and unfamiliar smells like the salty smell of dried squid and sweet Filipino milk candy from her open suitcase; the smell of her custard-covered cassava cake in the oven. And while they wait for the flan to get firm, Lola tells them the funny story of how the first time Mom tried to make it, she got the amounts of salt and sugar switched.
When Lola comes, she brings not just old scents, but future memories.
And that summer Lola helps make new ones--the chlorine smell of the pool where the girl first learns to float, the strong seawater smell of swimsuits drying, stiff and salty and sandy, at the beach. The green smell of fresh banana leaves spread on the old wooden table, filled with freshly cooked shrimp and lobster and the acrid smell of fireworks that celebrate the summer holiday, and...
FRESH FISH AND BROWN-SUGARED BANANAS ON THE GRILL.
And then the hot scent of sudden rain sizzling on the steamy tarmac at the airport where they tell Lola goodbye.
But now there are new smells, the smells of fall...
...freshly sharpened pencils to go into the brand-new stiff school bags, but also there are...
THE LAST SWEET BITS OF SUMMER IN LOLA'S JAM.
The memories are mixed with the sweet scents of summer, in Michelle Sterling's just published When Lola Visits (Katherine Tegen Books, 2021).
While everyone will have their own sweet memories of childhood summers--the smells of the inside of the ice cream truck, vanilla and chocolate together, and grape and banana popsicles dripping on the sidewalk, Saturday night barbecues, and squishy flipflops in the bottom of the beach bag--the deep memories of visiting grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins and best friends, all belong with these summer memories. Artist Aaren Asis provides the soft, sheer illustrations that capture the illusive memories of summers past. Says Kirkus, "This is a beautiful, tender expression of family and love that spans generations and great distances. The illustrations add so much life and context to the words."