We’re embarking on another intergenerational journey in today’s Perfect Picture Book. And it involves one of my favorite themes – moving. Enjoy!
Title: Ten Beautiful Things
Written By: Molly Beth Griffin
Illustrated By: Maribel Lechuga
Suitable for Ages: 5-8
Themes/Topics: journey, intergenerational, moving, loss, beauty of nature
Lily ran her finger across the Iowa map. An X marked Gram’s house on an empty patch of land. Lily’s new home.
Brief Synopsis: Lily’s Gram invites her to find ten beautiful things along the road as they journey to Lily’s new home.
Links to Resources:
- Take a walk or a bike or car ride and find ten beautiful things. Why do you think they’re beautiful?
- Try one or more of these 9 road trip games that don’t involve a smart phone or other screened device;
- Find more resources in this Activity Kit.
Why I Like this Book:
Ten Beautiful Things is a story about a journey undertaken by Lily and her Gram to Lily’s new home, where she’ll live with her grandmother. The reader learns at the outset that the house sits “on an empty patch of land” (emphasis added). Lily feels hollow inside. It’s clear right at the get-go that Lily isn’t happy about her new home. Who would be? Something clearly is amiss.
But Lily’s wise Gram doesn’t focus on what’s wrong. She doesn’t pass the time with idle chatter or platitudes like, “everything will be alright.” Instead, this wise Gram invites Lily to redirect her attentions, to focus outside herself, to find ten beautiful things along the highways and byways of their journey through Iowa.
Many of these beautiful things involve nature, like a young calf, the rising sun, or a gurgling creek. Others are human-made, like a crumbling barn or windmill blades gleaming in sunshine. What they have in common is that they invite Lily to fill the hollow spaces in herself with the beauty that surrounds her.
I think anyone who has experienced a bad mood, a difficult situation, or even depression can relate to the relief, even if it’s temporary, found when they notice small pleasures: rain tip-tapping on a metal roof, a rainbow, or the swoop of a colorful bird near their window. Ten Beautiful Things is a reminder to kids and adults of all ages to “stop and smell the roses”, that regardless of how bad you may feel, there is beauty in this world.
Lechuga’s sweeping vistas provide the perfect backdrop to this tale. I can imagine children finding other beautiful things within these detailed illustrations, including several different species of birds which fly through the spreads.
Ten Beautiful Things is a lovely book for grandparents to share with their grandchildren, or for classroom discussions of difficult situations, like the loss of a loved one, a change in schools, or a difficult move.
A Note about Craft:
Griffin never states in the text why Lily is moving into Gram’s house. The reader also doesn’t know whether this is a temporary or a permanent situation. The reader knows merely that Lily is sad about the move. I think it’s helpful that Griffin doesn’t specify either the reason for the move or its duration, as I think children who may find themselves in a similar situation may be better able to picture themselves in the story and empathize with Lily.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!