#WomenReadWomen2019 Award-Winning Books Early Readers Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes Witches and Goddesses Dryads and Priestesses

[Monday Reading] The Generosity Of The Empty-Handed in 2018/2019 Picturebooks

"Thank You, Omu" by Oge Mora | "What Is Given From The Heart" by Patricia McKissack and April Harrison.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community. 

Once again, these two picturebooks are not really about witches – but more like women whose open-heartedness and generosity of spirit had made them Queens of their communities, luminous and forever shining bright.

Thank You, Omu [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written and Illustrated by Oge Mora
Published by Little Brown and Company (2018)
ISBN: 0316431249 (ISBN13: 9780316431248). Literary Awards: Caldecott Medal Nominee (2019), Charlotte Zolotow Award Nominee for Highly Commended (2019), Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for Illustrator (2019). Borrowed via NLB Singapore Overdrive. Book photos from e-book.

When Fats shared this title earlier this year, I wanted to find it immediately. Fairly recently, I was able to retrieve it via Singapore’s National Library Board (via Overdrive). The libraries here, sadly, do not hold brand new titles in English the way that Singapore massively updates its local libraries. So I am grateful that I was able to still read this as an e-book.

The witchy smell of Omu’s stew (I try, I really do) which she has prepared for dinner has brought this young boy who is unable to get the smell out of his head, to Omu’s door. Naturally, Omu had to offer the young boy a bowl. Little did Omu know that this boy was just the first of many who found themselves gravitating to her doorstep, unable to resist the delicious smell.

In the Author/Illustrator’s Note, Oge Mora noted that while Omu means Queen in Igbo, the Nigerian language of her parents, it also means “Grandma” in her family. Whether Omu still had enough for herself at the end of the day for dinner, I shall leave for you to discover. This story reminded me of wondrous acts of faith and open-hearted generosity. Beautiful.

What Is Given From The Heart [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Patricia C. McKissack Illustrated by April Harrison
Published by Schwartz & Wade Books (2019)
ISBN: 0375936157 (ISBN13: 9780375936159). Borrowed via NLB Singapore Overdrive. Book photos from e-book.

I am a fan of Patricia McKissack. When I found out from the Illustrator’s Note that this was the last story ever written by McKissack before she died, this made the book even more special in my heart.

A young boy named James Otis and his mother are going through some rough times after his father died: they had to move to a smaller place, giving up their farm; they had to make do with very little; and there’s barely more than enough for their daily needs.

What stood out for me was how connected the family was to their Church community, indicating a very strong social support system. When another family had lost all their belongings to a fire, the community took it upon themselves to provide a care package to help tide them over. Initially, young James Otis wondered aloud what he could possibly give to another family when they had barely enough for themselves.

“How we gon’ do that, Mama? We aine got nothing ourselves.”

This story is a powerful reminder of how even the littlest of things can make a world of difference, especially when What is Given (is) from the heart. In truth, those who have very little to give, are the most open-hearted – it is like they carry the world on their shoulders, and along with it everyone else’s burdens, too – shared with a genuine sense of community. Definitely a book that should be added to anyone’s library.

#WomenReadWomen2019: United States of America

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

6 comments on “[Monday Reading] The Generosity Of The Empty-Handed in 2018/2019 Picturebooks

  1. I adore the title of todays blog. I’ll be thinking about this all day today: The Generosity Of The Empty-Handed. I also adore Thank You, Omu. What Is Given From The Heart looks wonderful too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Like Cheriee, I like the title (and spirit) of your post.
    Having trouble finding witchy books, Myra? This one has a druid in it, if that helps: https://smile.amazon.com/Brigids-Cloak-Bryce-Milligan/dp/0802852971/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve had What Is Given From The Heart on my list, but haven’t yet gotten my hands on it. This looks wonderful — hope we get a copy very soon. And I really liked Thank You, Omu! I’m glad you can get to some of these titles electronically. Our e-book options have been a tremendous help for me these last couple years because they stock the latest books there. Have a wonderful reading week, Myra!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sarah Sammis

    Thank you, Omu looks delightful. My weekly update

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Two really interesting looking books. Thanks for sharing. I hope to find these soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] 10 Uplifting Black Narratives Depicting Joy, Love, and Community – Gathering Books

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