Mora, Pat. 2007. Yum! MmMm! que rico!: Americas’ sproutings. Ill. by Rafael Lopez. New York: Lee and Low Books, Inc. ISBN – 9781584302711.
Critical Review –
Pat Mora assembles fourteen haikus celebrating not only the taste but also the experience in the mouth of various foods that are natively grown in the Americas. Opposite each poem, she provides thoroughly researched information on each food’s origins and includes some very interesting trivia about the food. The poems are arranged alphabetically: blueberry, chile, chocolate, corn, cranberry, papaya, peanuts, pecan, pineapple, potatoes, prickly pear, pumpkin, tomato, and vanilla. Some of the foods will be very familiar to children and others will not, but the fascinating facts acquaint the children to those foods.
Mora scatters in a few Spanish words in her poems which are easily identified since they are in italics, and she provides the translation for the words on the reverse side of the title page. Her colorful haikus use sensory imagery, alliteration, assonance, and personification. She ends her anthology with a letter to the reader in which she creates a “fast-clapping or jump-rope rhyme” using the foods from her poems.
The illustrations, extra details, and haikus work together to create multicultural themes of the Americas and their foods. Using acrylic on wood-panel, Lopez creates bright, vivid pictures with lots of reds, oranges, greens, and blues. The illustrations are as inviting as the poems. While text is small for younger children to see, they will be drawn into the pictures to hold their attention as they listen. The poem below is an example of Mora’s anthology. In this haiku, she uses sensory imagery so the reader can experience just how hot the chili is. She also uses assonance with the long “i” sound in the words “bites,” “fire,” “eyes,” and “sighs.” This long “i” sound seems to stretch out the fire of the chile on the tongue.Chile
Dad bites green mouth-fire,
laughs when tears fill his eyes, sighs,
"Mmmm! This heat tastes good."
Kid Connection –
Introduce the above poem by asking children to share what is their favorite food and explain what they know about it. Next, read the poem and share the fun facts about the food. Ask for student volunteers to share their experiences with foods. Next, follow-up with Mora’s suggestion and have the students fast-clap or jump rope (if weather permits) her ending rhyme on foods. This poem would make a nice introduction for a social studies lesson.