Guest Reviewer: Briana, UCF Elementary Education Student
Thank You, Omu!
Author & Illustrator: Oge Mora
Published October 2, 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Summary: A generous woman is rewarded by her community in this remarkable author-illustrator debut that’s perfect for the Thanksgiving season, perfect for fans of Last Stop on Market Street.
Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu’s delicious stew! One by one, they follow their noses toward the scrumptious scent. And one by one, Omu offers a portion of her meal. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself?
About the Author: Oge Mora is a collage artist and storyteller. Her picture book, Thank You, Omu!, was a Caldecott Honor, Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award winner, and Ezra Jack Keats Book Award recipient. Her second book, Saturday, won the 2020 Boston Globe—Horn Book Picture Book Award. Oge’s artwork has been applauded by The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Boston Globe. She also recently made the Forbes 30 Under 30 2021 list in Arts & Style.
Oge grew up in Columbus, Ohio but resides in Providence, RI. She is a fan of all things colorful, patterned, or collaged, and enjoys creating warm stories that celebrate people coming together.
Review: This is a beautiful and joyous book celebrating community, generosity, and reciprocity. What I like about this book is that everything is freely given: Omu shares her stew out of the kindness of her heart and all of the neighbors return that kindness without being asked or cajoled. I also like this book because it demonstrates how we can and should rely on each other in times of need. Everyone in the book receives and gives help at different points. And this shows how connected, strong communities make everyone’s life better. I think this book is important because there isn’t really any conflict or character growth in the story, instead everyone acts as they should, and this serves as a model for students about how to act and how the world should be.
The cut-paper illustrations, also done by Oge Mora, are colorful and vibrant. This makes the book and the town it depicts feel warm, inviting, and idyllic which draws the reader in and supports the text’s message about the value of community. This book is set within an urban setting, which is a refreshing change of place from the suburbs, and idealized rural and wilderness settings of so many children’s books. And it is important for children to see urban communities as beautiful and valuable.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I think this book is a valuable addition to your classroom library and it is an excellent book for whole class read aloud. This book can be used with the guided questions to prompt discussions about sharing and about the students’ own communities. It is also useful to build a healthy classroom community. Students are going to be asked to share and work together throughout the year. Students can also explore the illustration style while exploring the central theme. For example, students could be tasked to depict a scene of a time when they shared or someone shared with them using cut construction paper. After reading the story students should be able to understand and reflect on their own communities, the members that make it up and how everyone works towards a happy community. You can also discuss the elements of Nigerian American culture that are prevalent in this book, such as the one pot stew and Omu’s name herself.
- What does Omu make that has everyone starving?
- Why do you think Omu shares with everyone?
- How do you think all the characters know each other?
- How did the community thank Omu for sharing?
- Omu helped her community by sharing! What are things you could share that would help your community? Remember that you can share things that are not physical.
- What makes a good neighbor?
- Why is sharing important? Can sharing be hard? Why or why not?
Read This If You Love: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris, Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell
Thank you, Briana, for your review!