By Molly Beth Griffin, illustrated by Maribel Lechuga. Charlesbridge, 2021. 32 pages. $16.99/hardcover; $9.99/eBook. Friends Journal recommends for ages 4–8.
Grandparents have a special gift for helping grandchildren feel better, even in challenging circumstances. In Ten Beautiful Things, Gram encourages Lily to be attentive to the world around them during their car journey. On the opening page of the story, readers can readily observe Lily’s sad expression. Through this shared mindfulness practice, Gram supports Lily during a time of uncertainty.
Artist Maribel Lechuga created the illustrations digitally and added watercolor textures. Lily has reddish-brown hair, dark brown eyes, and a warm complexion, and her round face is mirrored by her Gram’s. The pictures capture Lily’s expressions of thoughtfulness, sadness, surprise, and wonder. Details in each scene, such as a stuffed animal companion, pink clouds at sunrise, and textures in grassy fields, contribute richness to the pages.
Along the way, the beautiful things observed by Lily and Gram include a sunrise, a soaring red-winged blackbird, the sound of a creek, and the smell of mud at a rest area. Using their senses to notice the ordinary beauty of Creation all around provides comfort, groundedness, and reassurance. Whether at home or in a First-day school setting, these examples could help adults guide children in noticing the world around them.
Readers do not learn why Lily is moving to live with Gram. Keeping this open makes the book a very flexible, useful tool for supporting families in a range of circumstances. At the conclusion of the car ride, the author writes, “None of this was easy,” but the picture of Gram and Lily hand in hand makes clear that, with loving support, we can get through hard times. A beautifully illustrated story, this book creates space for families to consider where we find beauty and strength.
Lisa Rand is a youth services librarian in southeastern Pennsylvania.