I finally got a chance to read Thank You, Omu, by Oge More and can see what all of the fuss has been about. Between the wonderful story of sharing with your neighbors, being a community, and giving back, there are beautiful collages made from a wide variety of materials.
Omu apparently means queen in Igbo, a Nigerian language. When I first saw the book I thought that Omu meant grandmother. Perhaps that was because Oma is how you say grandma in German. Turns out, Oge Mora called her grandmother Omu and that is who this Omu is modeled after. Omu is a giving soul that many of us recognize as a grandmother’s special gift.
The story is simple but heartwarming. Omu makes herself a delicious dinner of red stew and while she rests the scent of it wafts out around the neighborhood. People come knocking on her door one by one asking what that amazing smell is. Omu feeds them, figuring she has made so much she will still have some for herself. Of course, when she goes to get her own dinner there is nothing left for her. But it takes a village and her neighbors are soon knocking on her door to give back to her.
The images in the book are all collages that More made. She used a variety of materials, but my eyes kept going to the maps and pieces taken from books. I don’t feel that we see collages in picture books all that often, so it seems to set it apart from the others. From a multicultural standpoint, it is a wonderful book bringing in Nigerian culture and showing that neighborhoods are made up of all different kinds of people, brought together by location. A loving story that all children will enjoy.