writer, translator, teacher

This one is a treat for the eyes and ears.

—Maria Russo, New York Times children’s book editor 

Beautiful on all counts. 

—Betsy Bird, Fuse 8 Production 

A reminder of the importance of a sustained connection

to gratitude.         

—Julie Danielson, 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast


NCBR Young Children's Literature Award for 2018
Junior Library Guild Selection
NCIBA Golden Poppy Award shortlist
Mock Newbery Club Selection



a picture book for ages 4 to104


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 to a vegetable that is humble and luminous, dark and light, gloomy and glad, full of grief and full of joy—just like life.

Felicita Sala created the gorgeous illustrations for Ode to an Onion. More about her at www.felicitasala.com.

the reviews are in!

ODE TO AN ONION is featured in the New York Times Children's Books Special, Nov 9, 2018!


"Children who love words will warm to Alexandria Giardino's ODE TO AN ONION. The spare prose echoes Neruda’s own celebrations in verse of simple things, like the onion: 'luminous vessel … bright as a planet,' vanquishing 'the hunger / of the laborer along the hard road...' ”

 Julie Just, New York Times

"Sala's exuberant illustrations are playful and colorful . . . a sweet story about the creative process."  

Kirkus Reviews

"Onionskin endpapers are a nice touch to an introduction to the Chilean poet who paid tribute to familiar objects."  —Booklist


"Debut author Giardino envisions the inspiration behind one of Pablo Neruda's odes to familiar objects. ... Sala's matte artwork features thick lines, playfully skewed angles, and motifs from Neruda's body of work."   

 Movers and Shakers Column, Publisher's Weekly

Enfin en français, Ode à un oignon en librairie avec la couverture que Pablo aurait aimé  //  The French edition of Ode to an Onion has arrived, featuring a cover that Pablo would have loved!



Drawing Gardens at Live Oak Elementary, San Ramon, Dec 6

Meeting with Mock Newbery Clubs in Berkeley

Official Book Launch, Book Passage, Corte Madera, Sept 8

Copperfield's Books, Petaluma, Sept 15

Mrs. Dalloway's Books, Educator Night, Berkeley, Oct 11

Kid Quake Panelists, San Francisco Public Library, Oct 12

Charlie's Corner, San Francisco, Oct 20

Neruda's biographer, Mark Eisner, and 

Vivaldo Santos, Kramer Books in DC

About Alex

Alexandria Giardino lives in northern California, where she teaches writing and rides her mountain bike all over Mt Tam with her son. Alex previously lived in New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Santiago, Chile. She is also a translator, including creating the Spanish-language picture book, Smarty Marty's Got Game: En Español.


Her first picture book, Ode to an Onion, was inspired by the poet Pablo Neruda. Me + Tree is due out in spring 2021.

Alex is represented by Nicole Geiger at Full Circle Literary.

Alex's recent guest blog posts

Read about how a 1978 episode of In Search Of... inspired Alex to write Ode to an Onion at TeachingBooks.net (Alex is the Dec 10, 2018 guest blogger).

Read about Alex's favorite childhood books, her writing practice, and her dream illustrators at BOOKROO

Read Alex's story of how she became a picture-book author on Karlin Grey's wonderful blog about debut authors.


Classes & Workshops

Alex teaches writing to adults and kids throughout the Bay Area, as well as semester-long, for-credit creative-writing courses at De Anza College. For more information about all of her workshops and classes, contact Alex. 


For Teachers

"I have been startled—amazed may not be too strong a word—by the poems written in ten or fifteen minutes by students as young as seven. Their poems are precise and mysterious in just the way that Neruda’s odes ... are." 

--Ann Keniston


Ode to an Onion can be taught in a variety of ways, from kindergarten through middle school. Feel free to download a full packet of teaching materials, designed by Alex with the help of several veteran elementary-school teachers. The packet includes core-standard teaching units, as well as worksheets and extension activities. Be sure to let Alex know how it goes in your classrooms! 

Alex loves visiting schools and meeting teachers and kids. She has unique access to materials about Pablo and Matilde, as well as behind-the-scenes materials about the making of picture books. Her presentations are focused on inspiring children's creativity and their sense of connection to one another and nature. Contact Alex to book a school visit!


Contact Alex 


represented by Nicole Geiger of Full Circle Literary

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© 2018 by Alexandria Giardino

all illustrations ©Felicita Sala

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