Tag Archives: thank you omu

food-centric picture books to savor

Picture books touch on so many topics, including elements surrounding food—feasting it, traditional kinds of it, and the connections shared over it. Here’s a roundup of 18 food-centric picture books to savor! Bonus, some of these include recipes in the back matter too!



Freedom Soup by Tami Charles, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara (December 10, 2019).

Ti Gran teaches Belle to make Freedom Soup for the new year in a book that celebrates the history of the Haitian Revolution, family, and the joy and connectivity of traditions. Includes a recipe at the back and the most wonderful, gestural illustrations by Jacqueline Alcántara.



Amy Wu and Perfect Bao by Kat Zhang, illustrated by Charlene Chua (2019).

The main character struggles to make the “perfect” bao with her family until she discovers her own answer—making some just her size. Sweet, relatable, delicious.



Priya Dreams of Marigolds and Masala by Meenal Patel (2019).

Babi Ba reminisces about her memories of India by relaying sights and smells and spices with her granddaughter while they make rotli together.



Apple Cake: A Gratitude by Dawn Casey and Geneviève Godbout (2019).

A series of thank you’s to nature and its ingredients for, you guessed it, apple cake!



Wild Berries by Julie Flett (2013).

A contemplative journey in the woods for blueberry-picking with words in Cree and a recipe for wild blueberry jam. (You’ll find this one in my feature of Julie Flett’s Picture Book Life too.)



No Kimchi for Me by Aram Kim (2017).

Yoomi  loves her grandmother’s food—except for kimchi, something the “big kids” eat. She’s determined to develop a taste for it to prove she’s a big kid too.



A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin (2018).

An inventive, gorgeously illustrated mother-daughter moon myth inspired by Mid-Autumn Festival and mooncake midnight snacks!





Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear, pictures by Julie Morstad (2013).

A fictional imagining inspired by Julia Child on keeping the joie de vivre of childhood in cooking and eating no matter how old you are. And the one and only Coco Cake Land made chocolate almond cupcakes from this picture book in our collaborative blog post a few years ago too!



Thank You, Omu by Oge Mora (2018).

Omu’s stew smells so good, it attracts all kinds of visitors from her neighborhood, who she shares it with. When she has none left, those same people show up to return the favor. You can check out my post and craft to go with this lovely picture book here.



Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando written by  Andrea Wang, illustrated by Kana Urbanowicz (2019).

A biography of Momofuku Ando who invented instant ramen with the desire to provide convenient, tasty meals to hungry people after World War II.


Frankie’s Favorite Food by Kelsey Garrity-Riley (2019).

A school story about food and costumes that’s full of cute food puns!




Dumpling Dreams: How Joyce Chen Brought the Dumpling from Beijing to Cambridge written by Carrie Clickard, illustrated by Katy Wu (2017).

This picture book is the story of Joyce Chen who brought dumplings from Beijing to Cambridge and became a restauranteur and TV show host!




Porcupine’s Pie by Laura Renauld, illustrated by Jennie Poh (2018).

A sweet story of baking, sharing, and friendship.




Saffron Ice Cream by Rashin (2018).

Rashin visits the beach in Brooklyn and compares and contrasts it to the beach she used to visit in Iran, the home she misses. Luckily, she meets a new friend and a new ice cream flavor in her new home, both ways to sweeten it.




Tea With Oliver by Mika Song (2017).

This one centers on two tea drinkers destined for friendship, eventually.




Max Makes a Cake by Michelle Edwards, illustrated by Charles Santoso (2014).

A story of a sibling making a birthday cake for his sister that folds in the Passover story and Jewish traditions as well.



To Market To Market by Nikki McClure (2011).

An exploration of a farmer’s market—its food and its growers.



Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony (2013).

This picture book has two key ingredients that make it a fit for a food list: manners and donuts! Plus, you can check out the donut recipe my dear friend at Thirsty for Tea made to pair with Mr. Panda’s story a couple of years ago.


Your turn! Any favorite food-centric picture books to share?




thank you, omu! + collage card craft

Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora (2018).

This picture book is a celebration of generosity and community with striking, vibrant collage artwork. (And it just received a Caldecott Honor and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award for those engaging illustrations.)

According to Oge Mora in the afterword, “omu” means “queen” in Nigerian, and it’s what she called her grandma. She remembers: “When my grandmother cooked, she danced and swayed her hips to the radio as she stirred what was often a large pot of stew.” 


Omu in this story is cooking too: a thick red stew for dinner.






The stew smells so good that it attracts visitors. Visitors from all over the neighborhood. Visitors who Omu shares her stew with. First, a little neighbor boy, then a police officer, then a hot dog vendor, and so on.


“KNOCK, KNOCK!” Each one is drawn to Omu’s door by the delicious smell.



“THANK YOU, OMU.” Each one says thank you after eating. 


We as readers know that the stew cannot last forever, and it doesn’t. Omu has nothing left for herself. Instead of being a story in which the stew is magic and grows to meet the need, it indeed runs out. We are left feeling badly that Omu has doled out all her dinner. 

But not to worry. Each visitor from earlier in the day returns, the whole lot of them, with gifts of food and company. Omu’s giving has not gone unreciprocated. In fact, they all have something to give her in return.

This beautiful tribute to Omu’s heart (and her cooking) ends with more giving. Giving back. 


Big thanks to Little, Brown Young Readers for images!




I immediately wanted to do a collage paper craft when I read this book, and so in the spirit of the book and just in time for Valentine’s Day, I thought a thank you card would be perfect. Yours can say whatever you like, of course, but “thank you” or “I love you” seem fitting.



What you’ll need:

Paper of all kinds



Glue stick (or Modge Podge)


Start with a piece of construction paper or cardstock and fold it in half. The front will be the front of the card.

I began with the letters, choosing colors that matched the book cover, drawing them with pencil and then cutting them out. After that, from an assortment of papers, I chose the ones I liked or that corresponded to the book and started drawing shapes, cutting them, arranging them, and gluing them down. Hearts seemed in order for this craft, as did a skyline, a bowl of stew, and a home. Make whatever seems right to you!

Finally, write a note inside and share your card with someone you love, someone who’s been generous to you and who you’d like to give back to.