Ode to an Onion: Pablo Neruda and His Muse

Alexandria Giardino, illus. by Felicita Sala. Cameron Kids, $17.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-944903-34-3
Debut author Giardino envisions the inspiration behind one of Pablo Neruda’s odes to familiar objects. Feeling downtrodden after writing a “long, sad poem” about the lives of miners, Neruda is uplifted by a visit to his friend Matilde’s lush garden home, where “the air smelled like licorice and mud.” Matilde, an exuberant redhead (Pablo’s future wife), recognizes Pablo’s sadness and takes him on a walk through the garden, where her passion and optimism contrast with Pablo’s bleak perspective. But after picking an onion and slicing it for lunch, Pablo recognizes its beauty and complexity, something so much more than “a lowly vegetable.” Sala’s matte artwork features thick lines, playfully skewed angles, and motifs from Neruda’s body of work appearing in his cluttered seaside study. An end note shares biographical details about “Pablo and Matilde,” and Neruda’s “Ode to an Onion,” in Spanish and English, ends the book. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2018
Release date: 09/01/2018
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