What better way to start off a new year of blogging than with a lovely, heartwarming book about kindness and thankfulness. Start your year off right with Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora, 2018.

It all started with a big fat pot full of thick red stew. Omu (pronounced Ah-moo) is cooking her dinner and patiently sits to read while she waits for it to finish. But the delicious aroma wafts out the window and inadvertently invites a lot of unexpected guests to appear at Omu’s door.

First comes a little boy from down the hall who has to know what the delicious smell is. Omu thoughtfully decides to share some with the boy. But then a police officer shows up, also admiring the aroma, and then a vendor, and a cab driver, and more and more people drop by until the soup pot is completely empty.

Omu is terribly sad as, not only did she lose her best dinner, but now she has no dinner at all! And then another knock sounds at the door and Omu is delighted at all her visitors returning, not to take this time, but to give.

I have heard quite a lot of buzz about this book when it published last year, but I hadn’t looked it up until I visited the Society of Illustrators Original Art show last week and was wowed by Mora’s original illustration from this. I immediately put the book on hold at the library and I am so grateful to have read this book to begin this new year.

The illustrations for this book are collages. Amazingly bold and intricate collages. Acrylic paint, china markers, pastels, patterned paper, and old-book clippings are all fantastically put together by Oge Mora to create the stunning story. The simplicity and the heart of the sweet story are lovely; but the illustrations push this story far past being merely sweet and make it an unforgettable, must re-read, wildly beautiful book.

The bold use of color is the first thing that strikes me about the spreads. And I love how crisp and imperfect all the pieces are that make up such active images. Mora uses a wide variation on composition to expertly maintain interest on a story that doesn’t shift location at all. This could be a very static and quiet story were it not for the life-breathing, vividly colorful illustrations that accompany such a joy-filled, gentle-feeling text.

The piece of the book that stays with you the longest after the final page turn, is the overwhelming generosity of Omu. May we all determine this year to be so selfless and giving.