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Thank You, Omu!

Book review by
Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media
Thank You, Omu! Book Poster Image
Lovely art adds to sweet tale of food, community, gratitude.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Relationship skills of caring for others and sharing are modeled. Omu means "queen" in Igbo, a Nigerian language, and was what the author called her grandmother. The author's family/cultural practice of sharing food and friendship is the basis of Thank You, Omu!

Positive Messages

Generosity and kindness will be repaid in appreciation and friendship. Good neighbors give and receive. Community is strongest when different kinds of people support one another.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Through her generosity in feeding her community, Omu is a model neighbor -- welcoming, caring, and selfless. She turns no one away. The neighbors return her kindness by bringing a potluck party to her apartment. Characters come in a range of skin colors, genders, and occupations.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that author-illustrator Oge Mora's Thank You, Omu! won a 2019 Caldecott Honor. It's the story of how a woman named Omu makes a delicious stew that attracts members of her community to her door, and she feeds them all. Children will be exposed to African American and Nigerian cultural traditions of sharing food and friendship, as well as messages of kindness, gratitude, and community. Omu is black, and a diverse cast of characters of different races and genders with many occupations comprise the urban neighborhood. The mixed media collage illustrations are bright and lively, and they reflect both the diversity of the neighborhood and Omu's welcoming and inclusive nature. The story is built with repetitive structures and expressive sounds the characters make as they taste the stew (“Mmmm, "Ooooo," "Ahhhhh”) are sure to appeal to young story-listeners and readers.

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What's the story?

THANK YOU, OMU! begins with Omu, a grandmotherly-looking black woman making a delicious, fragrant stew in her big pot. Omu sits down to read while it cooks, but a long, ribbon of steam weaves its way out her window and down the hall and out to the streets of her neighborhood. A little boy playing in the hallway knocks on her door to inquire about the yummy smell. Omu shares a bowl with him and sends him on his way. Soon after, another neighbor, and then another, and many more come for stew. Soon, it is all gone, and Omu has no dinner! How will Omu's neighbors thank her for sharing her stew?

Is it any good?

This is a lovely story of generosity, community and gratitude and a gorgeously constructed book of collages made with cut paper, paint, and marker. It's certainly a worthy recipient of the Caldecott Honor. The bold colors in Thank You, Omu! create a lively city-feel and reflect the diversity of Omu's community. The steam that floats through the window and out into the neighborhood is like a thread that holds the story together, and looks like comfort and an invitation. The story has a folktale feel and is a testament to sharing, diversity, and inclusion.

Thank You, Omu! is wonderfully written, and the advanced vocabulary, repetition, and sounds of deliciousness (“Mmmm, "Ooooo," "Ahhhhh”) make it read-aloud gold. Families will enjoy reading this book together and talking about the inventive art and rich themes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Omu's generosity in Thank You, Omu!  How does Omu's sharing affect her community? What did you think when Omu discovered her stew was all gone? How do you thank people when they are generous with you?

  • How do the characters show empathy? Which other character strengths are important?

  • The author-illustrator uses collage to create pictures. What does this style of art tell you about who Omu is? How does the steam from the stew "invite" people into Omu's home? What do you learn about the neighbors and the neighborhood from the pictures?

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