Books It's Monday What Are You Reading Picture Books Reading Themes Universal Republic of Childhood

[Monday Reading] The World of Infinite Possibilities: A Walk through the Creative Process in “My Pen,” “Any Questions?” and “Ideas Are All Around”


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Fats here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

In Case You Missed It…


It all started with Philip C. Stead’s Ideas Are All Around. The book was on display in the children’s department. I loved the cover and I was inspired to share the book on the blog. I wanted to wait until I find other books I could feature alongside it. The inspiration escaped me and, for a while, I did not think about the book.

Two weeks later, I was randomly browsing through the picture book shelves when I came upon Marie-Louise Gay’s Any Questions? and Christopher Myers’ My Pen. Both looked incredibly good! It wasn’t until a few days later that I remembered Stead’s book, tucked in a corner.

It always fascinates me how one thing leads to another — a fortuitous encounter, an event, or even a simple idea. These three children’s books I have today are perfect tools in teaching kids about the creative process: using one’s imagination to create something from nothing (or even from something else). Allow these author-illustrators to take you (and the children!) on a journey into a world of infinite possibilities.

mr0620aMy Pen

Words and pictures by: Christopher Myers
Published by: Disney Hyperion (2015)
ISBN-10: 1423103718
ISBN-13: 978-1423103714

Dedicated to the people who make things and to the people who share them, Christopher Myers imparts a simple message to his readers: “All you need is your imagination…” The book is published in black and white format. The pages are filled with breathtaking pen and ink drawings by a celebrated artist whose illustrations have earned him Coretta Scott King Honors.


The photo above is the first two-page spread that welcomes readers. The statement he makes is one that most of us could relate to. I love how the black and white pages reflect the author’s feelings. His pen — his creative tool — liberates him from self-doubt, inferiority, and insecurity.


With his pen, Christopher Myers can do and make anything.

My pen makes giants of old men who have seen better days.

My pen rides dinosaurs and hides an elephant in a teacup.

My pen sails to Africa in a newspaper boat.


Christopher Myers uses his pen to tell stories, create wonders, and express feelings. Each page in this book offers a surprise for readers. He shows readers that anything is possible with a simple pen. The book contains detailed drawings and impressive shading techniques. At the end of the book, Christopher Myers encourages everyone to discover the stories, worlds, and power tucked inside a pen.

There are a million pens in the world
and each one has a million world inside it.

So if you have a pen, see what you can do —
let those worlds inside your pen out!

mr0620eAny Questions?

Words and pictures by: Marie-Louise Gay
Published by: Groundwood Books (2014)
ISBN-10: 1554983827
ISBN-13: 978-1554983827

I was so thrilled when I found a copy of this book in our library. I loved Stella, Star of the Sea. Although I haven’t read other Stella books, I know that anything by Marie-Louise Gay is endearing. Unlike her usual storytelling, Marie-Louise Gay explores the creative process in this book.

When I meet children in school or libraries,
I see that nothing has changed. Children are
as curious as ever.
They ask me questions all the time…
lots and lots of questions!
And why not? If you don’t ask questions,
how on earth will you find answers?


This book is inspired by the author’s encounters with children when she talks about her books. It tries to answer some of the questions that she gets asked and weaves them into a coherent story. Yes, one could say that it’s a story within a story.


Sometimes a story starts with
words or ideas floating out of nowhere.
Some words are captured and written down…
while others get thrown out
or carefully put away in a drawer for future use.
Until slowly, slowly, a story emerges…

Similar to Christopher Myers’ My Pen, Any Questions? encourages children to let their imagination run wild. It tells them that stories can branch out in so many directions, depending on how the writer directs it. It also does not ignore the fact that sometimes you could get an idea that doesn’t fit into the story — and that’s okay, of course. It’s not the end of the world. In fact, the idea that doesn’t fit into the story may be the start of a new one, and the writer has the option to save it for later.


All of a sudden… all of a sudden… It’s your turn!
What do you think happens next?

I like how this book encourages creativity by breaking the fourth wall. I also like how this book teaches the collective aspect of creation, in which children are encouraged to share ideas as well as build on the ideas of others. This book is so wonderful that it has received the following recognition:

Winner of the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award
Finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Illustration
Finalist for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award
Finalist for the Quebec Writers’ Federation Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature
Finalist for the Vancouver Children’s Roundtable Information Book Award
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
A Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice
A White Ravens Selection
A Globe 100 Best Book
Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts

mr0620iIdeas Are All Around

Words and pictures by: Philip C. Stead
Published by: Roaring Brook Press (2016)
ISBN-10: 1626721815
ISBN-13: 978-1626721814

Published only three months ago, this is the latest book by the celebrated author and illustrator of A Sick Day for Amos McGee, A Home for Bird, and Bear Has a Story to Tell, among others. This book fits perfectly with the first two I’ve shared. Hooray for ideas!


The book begins with a confession from the author: I have a write to write a story today… But today I don’t have any ideas. Older readers would probably have guessed by now where this plot is going. However, for the younger ones, it’s a treat to join the author and his dog, Wednesday, for a short walk around his neighborhood.


As the author takes his dog for a walk, he sees familiar things, places, animals, and people. Sometimes he describes them, other times he contemplates about them. Either way, the author always has something to say to the readers.

Up ahead
a train rumbles by.

I wave
and imagine passengers
off to places like





We talk about typewriters
and the birdcalls we know.

We talk about long lines of people
waiting for something to eat.

We talk about places
we’d like to go on the train.

We talk about war.

“It’s such a waste,” Barbara says.
“We could all go fishing instead.”

In this book, the author combines storytelling, Polaroid pictures, and gorgeous illustrations to remind readers that the world is a source of infinite ideas. From the familiar to the strange, the possibilities are endless. This book is a great and inspirational tool for writers and artists. After all, even the seasoned ones may find themselves out of ideas sometimes.



Currently Reading…

What books have you read lately?
What books are you reading this week?

8 comments on “[Monday Reading] The World of Infinite Possibilities: A Walk through the Creative Process in “My Pen,” “Any Questions?” and “Ideas Are All Around”

  1. The power of imagination! I will definitely seek out these books. One to add – Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman


  2. Wow. My Pen is absolutely gorgeous. As is Ideas All Around. Just beautiful. Wow.
    Here is the link to my It’s Monday:


  3. I love this theme! It’s so important to encourage our kids to create.


  4. I really enjoyed I am New Here too. I’d love to read Any Questions? but it isn’t at any libraries near me. I put a hold on My Pen though. Thanks for the suggestions.


  5. I love and have purchased all of these, Fats. They are so awesome, each unique, but the creativity is astounding. So glad to see your post about them.


  6. My Pen is amazing! It looks gorgeous! 😀


  7. What a fabulous combination of amazing books. You are right! They work together perfectly to talk about creativity.


  8. Pingback: [Monday Reading] Paint Your World: Celebrate Creativity with “Sky Color” and “Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color” – Gathering Books

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