From an open window of a top-floor apartment on "the corner of First Street and Long Street" comes a most delicious smell. Omu (pronounced AH-moo) is preparing "a thick red stew in a big fat pot for a nice evening meal." The irresistible scent can't be contained: it "waft[s] out the window and out the door, down the hall, toward the street, and around the block."
Soon enough, there is a loud "KNOCK!" Omu opens her door to find a little boy who was distracted from playing with his race car by the "most delicious smell." Since she's made "quite a bit," Omu readily shares a bowl with the hungry boy, who eats and leaves with a satiated "THANK YOU, OMU!" The tempting aroma continues wafting "around the block" and no sooner has Omu settled back down when a double "KNOCK!" has her up again. This time Omu finds a police officer hoping for a taste. "Throughout the day, people from all across the neighborhood [knock] on Omu's door" and, of course, no one leaves hungry.
Oge Mora makes her author/illustrator debut with a joyous homage to her personal Omu: her grandmother. Mora's late Omu was a neighborhood beacon, whose large pots of stew fed many; she visually immortalizes her grandmother's ability to build community by enhancing her cut-paper designs with literal representations of assembling, constructing and connecting. Mora's art casually yet vividly reminds readers of the diversity we encounter all around us, presenting her characters in all hues while acknowledging multiple languages in various cut-outs throughout. Words and pictures, food and people all come together to fill hearts with "happiness and love"--and to make sure that Omu, who gave the most, gets "the best she had ever had." --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon