The author imagines the day when the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was inspired to write an ode to an onion.
As the book starts, a man is writing at his desk. His name is Pablo, and he is writing a long and sad poem, which makes him feel gloomy. This gloom will permeate much of his outlook that day. Soon he’s off to lunch with his friend Matilde. To dispel the glum mood, Matilde invites Pablo into the garden to collect what they need for lunch. For every happy and upbeat expression Matilde utters about the flowers and vegetables in the garden, Pablo responds with a sad comment. Back in the kitchen, when Pablo cuts into an onion, “all he saw through his tears was a lowly vegetable. But then he noticed how the sunlight shone through the onion’s layers.” He thanks Matilde for reminding him there is also happiness in the world. And thus, Pablo is inspired to write an ode to an onion. Sala’s exuberant illustrations are playful and colorful, depicting both Pablo and Matilde with pale skin. The backmatter includes a very brief account of the famous Nobel Prize winner’s life along with the poem with its English translation. Unfortunately, for most children in the United States not familiar with Neruda, his importance in 20th-century Spanish literature will not be apparent. Read along with Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People, by Monica Brown and illustrated by Julie Paschkis (2011).
Read for a sweet story about the creative process (but not for information about Neruda). (Picture book. 5-8)