Yum! ¡Mmmm! ¡Qué Rico!
Written by Pat Mora
Illustrated by Rafael López
Lee & Low, 2007
This beautifully illustrated picturebook is a vibrant adventure through culture, history, and food, seamlessly integrating informative and poetic text on each page. Readers will be swept through the haiku with awakened senses inviting them to join the activity throughout this artistic work. Pat Mora and Rafael López have created a cultural experience to which readers of all ages and backgrounds can connect. Yum! ¡Mmmm! ¡Qué Rico! will be a welcome addition to any educator’s collection in that it approaches diversity with a tone of respect and value through the universal lens of food.
Yum! ¡Mmmm! ¡Qué Rico! is organized into a delightful collection of haiku that focuses on one specific food in the U.S. of Native or Latin American origin per page, such as vanilla and peanuts. Each page also offers a more informative paragraph that introduces readers to a brief history of the food’s origin and journey into the modern day. This element could be especially interesting for older or higher level readers. To deepen the reader’s cultural and linguistic knowledge, Pat Mora includes the etymologies of these foods, which bring life to the earliest Americans who enjoyed these foods before European colonization. The stunning illustrations seem to move the reader through the joyous stories of each food. Children, families, nature, and culture are vividly represented in cheerful action and in peace through López’s artistic depictions. Warm, rich hues of seasonal colors boldly paint a picture of imagination and tradition that all readers will enjoy.
Rudine Sims Bishop (1990) emphasizes the importance of reading as a form of self-affirmation when she states, “When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part” (p. ix). Yum! ¡Mmmm! ¡Qué Rico! provides an exemplary reflection of cultural diversity in which readers can find themselves. The variety of ethnicities and colorful anthropomorphism illustrated in these pages teach a fun lesson of value and inclusion while highlighting rich Native and Latin American histories and cuisine. Pat Mora’s emphasis on the importance of diversity is open, informative, and approached with a tone of reverence for “the peoples of the Americas long before Christopher Columbus or any other Europeans” (Mora, 2007). Mora ensures that this book could be a valuable resource for a number of different lessons in literacy for the classroom, as it is engaging, culturally relevant and responsive, and teaches poetic and figurative language elements.
The notable themes of family and togetherness are depicted throughout Yum! ¡Mmmm! ¡Qué Rico!. In this age of technology in which societies around the world are plagued with stress and strife, this book offers readers a beautiful moment to return to our human roots and remember the loving bonds of family. Children may be encouraged to reflect upon the time that they spend with their families, gathering, celebrating, and engaging in traditions old and new. They may find a connection in that food is generally an essential piece of this time shared with their families and may see their own traditions and food from their tables come alive in these illustrations.
Pat Mora and Rafael López deliver a wonderful piece that intertwines geography, history, and anthropological elements. Pat Mora has published over twenty-five children’s books. She is the founder of the family literacy initiative El dia de los niños/El dia de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day) and a strong promoter of diversity in children’s literature (Mora, 2007). Rafael López grew up in Mexico City, and his art is largely influenced by his heritage (Mora, 2007). His first book, My Name is Celia by Monica Brown, won an Américas Award and a Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor (Mora, 2007).
Madelyn Johnson, Coastal Carolina University
Bishop, R. S. (1990). Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Perspectives, 6(3), ix-xi.