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Books can help navigate and guide youngsters toward happiness. The following books are all picture books that are rich with inspiration, motivation and goodness. All are good for ages four through adult.
Believe: A Pop-Up Book of Possibilities, by one of my very favorite paper engineers – Robert Sabuda. This is a small-sized book with Sabuda’s spectacular pop-ups on every other open page. It begins with part of a sentence on an open page, When I grow up. The only other item on the page is actually a clue for what’s coming: an acorn. Upon turning the page, a giant evergreen pop-up is found. The entire book reads this way stating goals and with all the unlimited possibilities. Sabuda uses only crisp white on all pop-ups making them extraordinary!
The Amazing Idea of You, by Charlotte Sullivan Wild, and richly illustrated on the open-page with pencil, watercolor, and gouache on watercolor paper by Mary Lundquist, celebrates the incubation of ideas and collaborates with the growing season of nature. Take a bite / drop a bit / the idea might take root / sprout / shoot up / into the blue. The insinuation throughout is that there is greatness in you waiting to be found.
My Big Bad Monster, by A. N. Kang, is a wonderful book to help dispel self-doubt and inner-fears. The story begins immediately on the title page where you see a darling young red-haired girl drawing flowers around a self-portrait. You may or may not notice the beginnings of a tiny monster coming her way. You do notice, however, on the next page the monster is now larger, and she is staring at the picture she just finished. The following page has her scribbling black all over her drawing and you see an even larger monster. As the story goes on, she struggles and then overcomes this self-doubting monster and finds happiness. The watercolor and pencil drawings are delightful, and the lessons are important!
Linus: The Little Yellow Pencil, by Scott Magoon, is a soliloquy to collaboration and learning to work together. A cute pencil point, with a smile, is about to draw something amazing to enter in the family art show contest. As he draws an interesting Tyrannosaurus Rex playing a guitar, Ernie (his red eraser with a fierce expression) states the picture isn’t good enough. Ernie pays havoc on his pencil and Linus eventually goes into a cave. (The reader may discover this is actually a pencil sharpener.) What he learns inside changes his entire outlook along with Ernie and they learn to create the most magical drawings. Also, be sure to check out the end-pages.
Mr. Posey’s New Glasses, by Ted Kooser, and cleverly illustrated digitally by Daniel Duncan, is a delightful intergenerational story about an older Mr. Posey who feels gloomy. Everything seems to be the same in his old life, but he gets an idea when he looks out the window and sees young Andy and decides to go to the thrift shop with him and get new glasses. What he experiences there is magical and the conclusion is spot on!
We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands, a new adaptation filled with vibrant color by illustrator Rafael Lopez, celebrates this well-known song by emphasizing unity, working together and getting along. The pictures in this over-sized book fill the open-pages with glorious color and the sheet music is included at the back of the book. Be sure to check out the delightful end-pages.
Because, by Mo Willems, and beautifully illustrated by Amber Ren, depicts how one musical piece can change a life which can ultimately affect another and that life can affect yet another, etc. Likening to a domino effect, music can sway, persuade and even motivate as the notes liltingly lift and move over the instruments. Music can assimilate into many actions to increase into selflessness. A selfless act of kindness, a gesture of help, a brightness of a smile all can affect others in such a positive way in a similar way that music can. That is what is portrayed throughout this inspiring book. Both front and back end-pages include beautiful sheet music.
Lola Dutch When I Grow Up, by Kenneth and Sarah Jane Wright, is an imaginative story and the second book in this series that centers on clever, creative and full-of-wonder Lola. She has great desire to achieve so many things when she grows up (a singing performer, an inventor, a scientist and more). But ultimately, she just wants to enjoy the adventures of childhood. Lola is adorably drawn, as are all the illustrations done with pencil and watercolor, in this inspiring book. There are even paper dolls on the inside jacket.
Just Like Rube Goldberg: The True Story of the Man Behind the Machines, by Sarah Aronson, and perfectly rendered with pencil and ink and then onto a Macintosh computer by Robert Neubecker, is the true story about a man with a tremendous gift of the imagination. Rube was a very famous award-winning cartoonist and inventor who followed his dreams. His cartoons are actually very complicated in the way he made up clever inventions to suffice for everyday needs. But through their complications they are hilarious. Many of his crazy inventions are found in this amazing book. The front and back end-pages have an assortment of his actual cartoons as they looked in newspapers. “The Only Sanitary Way to Lick a Postage Stamp” is one of the examples.
The Good Egg, by Jory Kohn, and with scanning watercolor textures and digital paint to illustrate by Pete Oswald, is a verrrrrry good egg. He likes to help out when there is a need, any kind of a need. He’ll be there to carry your groceries, water your plants…even change your tires. But he is surrounded by rotten eggs. His attempts to change them and keep peace begins to crack his shell. What he discovers teaches some great lessons while enjoying this fun and funny book. The illustrations and the text are both hilarious making this the perfect read-out-loud for bedtime.