Thank You, Omu! is a children’s book about community, generosity, and gratitude, written and illustrated by Oge Mora.
The beautiful illustrations are collaged. A collage is an artwork created by gluing smaller pieces of paper or material to a larger background, to create a picture. The author created her collages using old book pages, maps, patterned papers, and papers she created herself with paint, markers & pastels.
Inspired by this lovely story & beautiful illustrations, in this lesson, we’ll make our own Cityscape Collage. We’ll explore one method of creating our own beautiful papers, we’ll go through the steps of collaging a cityscape, AND we’ll explore the ideas of community, generosity, and gratitude.
Start by opening up your copy, borrowing it from the library or watching this Read Aloud Video. While you read, or listen, to each page, take a minute to notice the different colors, textures and patterns that make up each collage.
(pssst…we loved this project so much that we made a video about it! Click here to see Anna teaching Thank you, Omu! Cityscape Collages)
- Colorful construction paper (1-3 full sheets)
- Crayons (including white/light colors)
- Collaging papers (could include: newspaper/book pages, leftover watercolor paintings, patterned papers, magazine pages, scraps of construction paper, etc.!)
- Glue stick
Before you Start
- Pick a full sheet of paper to be your background – this will be what you glue all your other papers onto. This will also represent the sky.
- Pick a paper for your main building (like my orange building) – about 2/3rds of a full sheet.
- Pick about a half page for your smaller building (like my blue building).
- Pick about a half page for your windows.
Make Your Own Collaging Papers
Crayons on top of colorful papers make a beautiful effect. Here are four ideas for making beautifully designed papers using crayons & simple drawing techniques, inspired by Oga Mora’s painted papers. For each paper, pick three crayons: one that is lighter than your paper, one darker, and one about the same.
Soft Coloring: Try this method on your background paper, coloring the top half of the paper. Starting with your lightest crayon, softly color with the side of the crayon. Add layers, with your other colors.
Straight Scribble: Try this method with your main building paper. With your lightest crayon, scribble straight lines back and forth. Layer with your other colors, following the same direction. Optional: turn your paper, and scribble lines in the other direction.
Swirly Scribble: Try this with your smaller building paper. Pick a color, and scribble swirls all over your paper. Layer swirly scribbles with your other colors.
Pattern Making: Try this with the paper for your windows. With a white or light crayon, draw a pattern. Bare down with your crayon. Then, with another color, lightly color on top of your pattern.
Creating Your Cityscape Collage
- Trim & cut your papers to create the shapes that you want. Try out placing your different types of paper on top of one another to see what you like.
- Once you have decided on what shapes you want, use your glue stick to glue each piece to the background paper.
- Start with your main building shapes. Then add windows, and details like window ledges or curtains. For more ideas on types of details, look at the different pages in Thank you, Omu!
Parent Tip for Beginners
Once you’ve made the papers (or using whatever papers you have,) cut out some simple shapes for your child to choose from: squares, rectangles, triangles, etc. The simpler version below: though it uses similar shapes, the street-view perspective might make more sense to some artists.
The author called her grandmother “Omu” (pronounced Ah-moo) which means “Queen” in the Nigerian language of Igbo. Do you have nicknames for your grandparents, aunts/uncles, neighbors or friends? What does the name mean? Does anyone in your family speak multiple languages?
Oge Mora was inspired by her grandmother’s generosity. She says “Everyone in the community had a seat at my grandmother’s table.” Who in your life inspires you?
In the end of “Thank You, Omu!” everyone shares something with Omu — even the little boy, who writes a thank you note. Who could you write a thank you note to in your community?