Thank You, Omu!
Omu (pronounced AH-moo, it’s Igbo for queen
), the matriarch of her city neighborhood, is making “thick red stew in a big fat pot.” As the delicious scent—rendered as an undulating strip of paper—wafts through the neighborhood, a little boy drops by, then “Ms. Police Officer,” and then a deluge of hungry humans that eventually includes the mayor. Mora, a major new talent making her debut as an author-illustrator, gives her book a rhythmic, refrainlike structure: There’s a “KNOCK!” at the door, a moment of thought on Omu’s part, the presentation of a bowl, and a hearty “Thank you, Omu!” in brightly colored capital letters. Dinnertime arrives, and a chagrined Omu discovers that she’s given all her stew away (“There goes the best dinner I ever had!”). But she isn’t sad for long. The stew eaters arrive en masse at her door with a bountiful potluck (the boy proffers a handmade thank-you note), and “together they ate, danced, and celebrated.” This sweet story of inclusivity, gratitude, and delicious fellowship is also a feast for the eyes, with its warm colors and inventive mélange of cut paper and other materials. Ages 4–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)