Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora (9780316431248)
When Omu makes her thick red stew in her apartment, its delicious smell brings people to her door to discover what she is cooking. One by one, she feeds each of them some of her stew. There is the little boy, the police officer, the hotdog vendor, and many more. By the time Omu has given each of them a bowl, her large pot of stew is empty and there isn’t any left for her own dinner! Someone once again knocks on her door and it is all of the people she fed that day offering their own thanks and food to share with her.
Mora writes with the feel of a traditional tale. On just the first page, there is a cadence that feels immediately familiar and warm. Details are shared in just the right way, then the repetition kicks in, linking this even more with a traditional folktale. Mora has crafted the book with collage pages that combine different mediums. The stew itself is always red and often flowered. The smell wafts across the page in a swath of light-colored haze. Meanwhile, the vibrant urban community is brought to life and abuzz with energy.
A top read-aloud of the year, this picture book should be shared just like red stew. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth by Kate Gardner, illustrated by Heidi Smith (9780062741615)
This nonfiction picture book takes a brief look at a series of different animals and shows an unexpected side to each of them. Fierce gorillas are actually wonderful parents caring deeply and well for their offspring. Fanged wolves when looked at more closely are all about being friends with one another and connecting through their howls. The feared shark is an important part of its ecosystem and food cycle. The porcupine is less about throwing quills and much more about being a shy herbivore. Each animal is labeled with a false impression and then with a turn of the page the more detailed truth of the animal is shared.
Gardner has carefully selected animals that are perceived as something they are not. She wisely shares a mix of features of the animal and corrective facts that offset the false perception. The text is brief enough to make this book a great read aloud to share when exploring animal life. The book ends with a group of female pack leaders of different types and then shows all of the animals in the book together.
The illustrations are particularly lovely. Done in subtle colors and fine lines, the fur of the animals is almost touchable. Each animal is shown both singly on a simple blank background and then again in their habitat.
A beautiful and fresh look at some of the most misunderstood animals in the world. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.