The Tale Behind the Story
What inspired me to write Bunica’s Tomatoes?
My son has always been awe-stricken by the fact that a plant can grow from a tiny seed. At three years old, he planted some carrot seeds and was amazed at the sight of carrots growing from a tiny seed. He kept saying, “Did that grow from a seed?” And I would say, “Yes, my darling.” Even now, as a teenager, he says the same thing.
Then, there is my Uncle Donald who is an avid gardener. Every time I visit him in the summer he would refer to his seedlings growing and say, “It’s magic to them,” referring to the sun and the rain.
My daughter would pick one tomato, take one bite out of it and put it aside, take another and take one single bite out of it and again, put it aside. She would guard the half-bitten tomatoes with the nook of her arm. I can only imagine how those huge red shiny, juicy tomatoes would have looked to a year old child.
Last but not least my late mother-in-law Maria. Every summer she would grow the biggest and the juiciest tomatoes in her summer home in Transylvania, at the foot of the Carpathian mountains. I always thought there was magic happening in her tomato garden because her tomatoes were truly, sweet, huge, delicious and indeed bigger than my hands. My daughter would follow Maria, her grandmother - Bunica and eat the huge tomatoes. To this day, I still use the seeds she gave me to grow her heirloom tomatoes.
I scribbled this story on a paper, and I read it to my son. He smiled and said, “It’s a good story mummy, you should make it into a book.”
Book SynopsisBunica’s Tomatoes is an all too familiar story of a plant growing from a seed into a majestic fruit-bearing tree. The story is set in a rustic Transylvanian village where time is preserved. A six-year-old girl witnesses the growing process with her three-year-old brother as told by their watchful, yet loving and fun grandmother.
The little girl anxiously waits for the moment when the harvest can be enjoyed. The child’s awe and wonder spill from every page of this vibrantly colourful and highly detailed illustrated book. The passing of the seasons, nature's life cycle and the plants' unabated evolution are all captured attentively, with each page uncovering new wonders for readers to discover. The story ends with a strange magical twist where creation is revealed in an unlikely, yet charming way.
Check out "Bunica's Tomatoes" Book Trailer below:
Mother, school reading volunteer
"Gawri, lovingly creates a timeless story in which all generations can relate to. A gentle and kind grandmother teaching her granddaughter
a simple lesson in life… the gift of patience. The story shows young readers that with patience, diligence and love comes great rewards.
In this case, nature’s “magic” turns tiny, plain looking seeds into large, juicy and delicious heirloom tomatoes that the whole family can enjoy.
The illustrations are bright, rich and vivid. Seeing the child’s awe on the pages as she watches the tomatoes grow is a delight. Gardening and living off the land are not only inspiring but a valuable lesson to continue to teach to children.
I had the pleasure of reading this book aloud to a classroom of 6 & 7 year olds. Their comments afterwards reiterated my thoughts. They liked the colorful, glossy pictures. Most could relate to the story, planting their gardens in the spring and waiting “forever” for their vegetables to grow! They enjoyed seeing and learning about the different culture. Prior to reading, I explained what “Bunica” meant and it’s origin. Many shared that the story reminded them of their grandmother and memories that they shared planting, weeding, watering and harvesting their gardens.
A great tool to help connect children to, and the importance of our mother earth."
Retired Teacher, Writer, Grandmother
"A beautifully illustrated book, Gawri Manecuta’s Bunica’s Tomatoes is more than a charmer for the pre-school set. It gently offers some cherished values: the task of waiting is a lesson in patience. As well, Manecuta’s delightful little girl learns that working together with Grandma "Bunica" and little brother produces more than tomatoes – helpfulness and a joy of sharing also sprout in the process like magic. The sense of wonder sprinkled throughout the book is a worthy, ageless concept for us all.
In addition, the lessons of gardening are timeless. As American botanist, Luther Burbank, had stated: “There is no other door to knowledge than the door Nature opens.” Author Gawri Manecuta displays this theme simply and lovingly to her readers."
Musician, Composer, Producer, Educator
"In a modern world driven by technology and far removed from the outdoors, kids will soon believe that all sustenance comes from the supermarket. Adults are becoming dependent on food machines, losing their connection to Mother Earth. Thus, it is truly refreshing and inspiring to come across this “magical” rustic tale of a grandmother’s love for gardening and her grandchild’s view of the elements.
What we lose in the world of today’s child is lovingly, creatively and uniquely reintroduced as a grandmother uses nature’s miraculous powers to turn a handful of seeds into large, luscious heirloom tomatoes."
Josie Di Sciascio-Andrews
Author of two poetry collections: Sea Glass and The Whispers of Stone; Member of League of Canadian Poets Winner of Arborealis Poetry Prize
“Tiny seeds in a pot of soil, water, sunshine and lots of tender loving care are Bunica’s secret. A grandchild’s awe and wonder spill from every page of this deliciously colourful and appealing tale. “Red as cherries” and “Bigger than the child’s hands”, Bunica’s large heirloom tomatoes are more than edible fruits. They could just be Bunica’s most magical gift.”
"A thoughtful familiar story of a seed growing into a vegetable is beautifully brought to life by the author Gawri Manecuta in Bunica's Tomatoes. Delightful visual details and clues on every page compliment this entertaining story that parents will appreciate and enjoy sharing with their children. A simple story yet a powerful reminder of the wonder of plants."
Author of Nonna's Garden
"Bunica's Tomatoes is a great book that reminds me of the magic of a simple yet special thing, especially when you are sharing it with someone so special as your Bunica. Congratulations!"
"Great work on the book and I hope that you continue writing more great children’s books. Romania does indeed have much beauty and I think that you captured its essence in this book."