Friday, October 8, 2010

Yum! MmMm! ¡Qué Rico!

Winner of the Americas Award for Illustration. Children's and Young Adult Literature.

"Yum! ¡MmMm! ¡Qué Rico! Americas’ Sproutings. Written by Pat Mora


This concept book serves as a delicious introduction to 14 types of food, all of which have their origins in the Americas. Snippets of information and a haiku poem accompany each one, ranging from blueberry and chili pepper through papaya, prickly pear, and vanilla. Using English and a smattering of Spanish words, Mora crafts a playful introduction to each one, as in "Pumpkin": "Under round luna,/scattered tumblings down the rows,/autumn's orange face." The sense of whimsy is further underscored in López's colorful acrylic on wood-panel illustrations. Artful compositions and brilliant complementary colors bear out the book's multicultural themes. The art conveys an infectious sense of fun, as smiling suns and moons beam down upon happy children and animals, along with a trumpet-wielding peanut-butter sandwich and a dancing pineapple. Teachers will find this a welcome addition to their social-studies units, but it should also win a broad general audience for its inventive, fun-filled approach to an ever-popular topic: food.
—School Library Journal

The painting on top of the dad exclaiming 'this heat tastes good" was my favorite. Being from Mexico, I have a deep desire to put chile on everything. I dedicated this book to my mother Pillo, an amazing cook and even wrote my own haiku for her.

For my mother Pillo
blooming in her cocina
aromatic poems of love.

My friend Pat Mora's wonderful haiku, seventeen-syllable poems of Japanese origin inspired the paintings for this book. The words given to me by the writer are the sparks that ignite my drawings. I like to write them out in my own handwriting and tape them up to the walls of my workspace. I try to find clues in the words that will help me paint the picture but I always avoid being literal and mirroring the text verbatim. Instead I choose to communicate the spirit of an idea. Eating blueberries is like riding barefoot on the back of a giant soaring blue bird on a summers day.

Fill your mouth with blue.
Share a bowl heaped with summer.
Chew indigo O.

Chewing your perfume,
we taste your leafy jungle.
Yum! Juicy tropics.

Red desert wonder.
Cactus fruit becomes syrup and dulces.

Fudge, cake, pie, cookies.
Brown magic melts on our tongue.
Happy, your eyes dance.

Of course doing your research is important and so I visited the farmers market regularly during this project. I was also able to justify eating as much chocolate as needed to get just the right expression on the face of the character above.

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