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Ode to an Onion: Pablo Neruda and His Muse

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  153 ratings  ·  38 reviews
A poetic, beautifully illustrated picture book inspired by Ode to the Onion by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904–1973).  Pablo has a lunch date with his friend Matilde, who shows the moody poet her garden. Where Pablo sees conflict and sadness, Matilde sees love and hope. The story is less a biography of Neruda and his muse, Matilde Urrutia (1912–1985), and more a simple ode ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published October 9th 2018 by Cameron
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Average rating 4.35  · 
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 ·  153 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those looking for beautiful picture books with a philosophical message.
Recommended to Hilary by: Requested the library buys
What a wondeful story! This beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of how Chilean poet Neruda Pablo goes to see his friend Matilde. Pablo is thinking of the world's injustices and feeling low, Matilde helps him to see that amidst the sorrow there is so much wonder and happiness. Matilde gathers vegetables to make their lunch and Pablo is struck by beauty of an onion, how it contains sweetness and bitterness and starts to write poetry about everyday objects. His Ode to an Onion is i ...more
Jon Nakapalau
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful first book that introduces small children to this giant of poetry - art is fantastic!
Lisa Vegan
This is a lovely, special book. I loved everything about it.

The illustrations are wonderful! I loved the artistic style for the depiction of people and other living things and inanimate objects and decorative touches. Spectacular use of color too! The pictures are gorgeous and their details are fun to view.

I loved how the end papers front and back were textured to be like onion skin. Brilliant detail!

I love Pablo Neruda’s poems and really like his Ode to the Onion poem. The poem is included at
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful illustrations--I predict next Caldecott winner!

Poetry, sadness, hope
Mark Eisner
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is genius and beautifully poetic, the words and the illustrations, how they combine. I may be a biographer of Neruda but forget about Neruda's ode itself, forget about Neruda himself, this book is about what happens in the interaction between the characters, it's about the elements that inspire creativity and thoughtful expression, the elements that create the poetry in poems and the poetry of our lives. I hope this book brings a lot of joy and inspiration to many children.
Beautiful language and illustrations. It’s not as flashy well known as many other picture books this year but there’s something incredibly special about this story about the famous poet Pablo Neruda.
Yevgenia Nayberg
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the most visually stunning books of the year!
Ah, ultimately, it's all about perspective, after all. Chilean poet Pablo Neruda often wrote about romance, love, and social issues. It can be hard to see much good in the world when preoccupied with the weighty concerns of injustice. In this picture book, readers learn about the inspiration behind his "Ode to an Onion" as he and his friend Matilde gather fruits and vegetables for a simple lunch. As they choose the makings for their meal, Pablo focuses on the negatives and hopelessness while Mat ...more
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Wonderful illustrations on heavy matte paper make this picture book feel like an art journal. Mathilde is a vibrant red-headed mother earth juxtaposed with Pablo the brooding poet. All through the garden she sees joy and purpose where he sees only loss and sorrow until he sees the luminosity of the peeled onion. Includes the full text of Neruda's poem, Ode to an Onion, in both English and Spanish. A beautiful book to pair with Neruda, Poet of the People.
Edward Sullivan
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
A beautifully illustrated and designed picture book imagining the creative process that leads Neruda to write one of his famous odes. The onion skin endpapers are a lovely touch.
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Beautiful. Loved the gentle rapport between the two characters. Recommended for Neruda fans and old souls ages 5-8.
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
A sweet "back" story of Pablo Neruda's "Ode To An Onion" poem.
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love the back & forth
of sadness & happiness
between Pablo and Matilde.
Gorgeous artwork all the way
I picked up Ode to an Onion because I saw it was illustrated by Felicita Sala and I recently fell in love with her illustrations in She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein.

This was a very pleasant read, and I've continued to enjoy it two or three times over the last few weeks. Extra-nice touches include the "about" Pablo and Matilde section at the end, the inclusion of Neruda's poem in both Spanish and English, and lovely endpapers that look like thin layers of onion.

I was sur
Robert Teeter
This is a delightful picture book telling the story (a story?) of how the poet Pablo Neruda came to write "Ode to an Onion." He got the idea while visiting "his friend Matilde" (later his wife) and picking vegetables to make a salad. It captures the joy Neruda took in his life and his work and the common things that inspired his odes. The author based the story on the ode itself and on Matilde Urrutia's memoirs.
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lyrical language pairs with stunning art to tell the story of poet Pablo Neruda, gloomy and pessimistic from writing about poor laborers, and his cheerful companion who looks on the bright side and shows him the wonders of her garden. Onions are a terrific metaphor for life and contentment and Neruda writes his famous ode to celebrate this layered vegetable. Backmatter includes Neruda's Ode to an Onion, translated into English by the author, as well as the original Spanish.
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful and beautifully illustrated picture book. I enjoyed looking at the detail in the illustrations. A sweet story about someone who is feeling sorrowful and a friend who is sunny, this may be an entry into discussing with children how to look at their own feelings in a positive, creative way.
Kimberly Wright Oelkers
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! I learned a lot about Pable Neruda. I love learning about history through picture book biographies.
Katrina Clohessy
Based on the life and work of poet Pablo Neruda, this story demonstrates how optimism can change a person’s perspective...and even lead to a simple poem about the humble onion! 26 pages.
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda is having a bad day. Then he meets up with his friend, the lovely Matilde. Matilde has the soul of a poet—she sees an unexpected beauty in everything. With simple, yet colorful pictures, the writer and illustrator coax us through an afternoon spent gathering the ingredients and preparing a simple yet delightful meal.

Mr. Neruda had a startling gift for metaphor and simile. The pictures make the words come alive and you see how a smile can be as wide as a guitar or an
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
A beautifully written book that imagines the creative process behind the poem, Ode to the Onion by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Pablo is feeling gloomy about everything during the writing of a long, sad poem. Then he realizes it’s time for his lunch date with his lively friend Matilde. With a big bunch of poppies in hand he arrives at her home. They stroll through the garden and with Matilde as his guide, his sadness lifts as he discovers a happier way to look at life even at a simple onion. The p ...more
Rebecca Ann
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
The artwork in this book is stunning! This true-story follows singer Matilde Urrutia and poet Pablo Neruda. In this snapshot of a moment in their lives, we get a touching yet down-to earth tale of ho Urrutia helped Neruda appreciate life and inspired his art.
Melissa Mcavoy
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4 1/2 stars. Spectacular illustrations and an interesting conversation between a poet who is taking life too seriously and a woman who revels in the intertwined joys and sadness the world offers.
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a really beautiful book about how Pablo Neruda was inspired by his wife and the simple pleasures of growing and eating food, in this case, an onion.
Denise Menger
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful illustrations--I predict next Caldecott winner!

Poetry, sadness, hope
Raven Black
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While this might not be my favorite book of all time, it is one of the first books in a while that I have truly loved. I felt this book in my gut. It shows the beauty in all things. I love how Pablo saw things through the eyes of a poet, yet he was sadly describing them; all the while his friend saw the same world also through the eyes of a poet (though one who you learned used music), and she was happily describing them. Lovely illustrations the capture the feel of the story, time and place. Th ...more
Jul 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting illustrations illustrating the inspiration for Pablo Neruda to write the poem. “The Onion” which is also included at the conclusion of the book.

One thing that bothered me a lot in the illustrations was a white onion is pulled from the garden to be used for lunch, then when the onion is cut and lying on the table for lunch it is red, then it is white in a following illustration followed in another illustration by a slice of red onion. Onions come in either white, yellow or red. The in
Ms Threlkeld
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lovely peek into Neruda’s mind.
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfic, j-ya, fic
In reponse to Pablo: there are no lowly vegetables.
Also a great demonstration of companion planting.
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