#SurvivalStories2021 Binge-Read Book Series Books Early Readers Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Of Beautiful Things Shared by Grandmothers in 2020 Picturebooks

Grandmothers know best!


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra 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). 

Our July – September 2021 reading theme:

Binge-Read: Book Series Marathon

typorama 13

We are on the look-out for books that fit the following deliberately-nebulous criteria:

  1. Books that are part of an ongoing series
  2. Themed stories: books that are technically not part of a series, but fit a specific theme – e.g. intergenerational stories, nature-themed stories
  3. Short story collections
  4. Narratives of a similar genre 
  5. Stories written by same author

These two stories touch on the same theme of beautiful things ushered to life through the wisdom of grandmothers – in 2020 picturebooks.

Ten Beautiful Things [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Molly Beth Griffin Illustrated by Maribel Lechuga
Published by Charlesbridge Publishing (2020)
ISBN: 9781580899369 (ISBN10: 1580899366) Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

Lily is taking a long road trip with her grandmother with whom she will be living with, in a remote farm in Iowa. The story does not really say what happened to Lily’s parents or why she will now be living with her grandmother – and for this story, it isn’t important.

What is clear is Lily’s emptiness inside her, a “vibration in her hollow chest” – that her grandmother subtly filled with not one, not two, but ten beautiful things.

Through a simple car game of finding beautiful things, the story unfolds into a deliberation of what beauty (“not pretty”) consists of: the kind that is soul-filling: not bought off a store, nor manufactured on social media, nor a trinket that only the privileged can afford to have. 

Rather, they are things that are accessible to everyone, often ignored, but ever-present: the magic of the mundane, the precious smells of the earth, the forgotten skies above us. This is an exquisite story about aching loss, the importance of paying attention, and discovering beauty that has gone unnoticed, but is waiting for you to hold in your gaze – as you glow from within.

The Most Beautiful Thing [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Kao Kalia Yang Illustrated by Khoa Le
Published by Carolrhoda Books (2020)
ISBN: 9781541561915 (ISBN10: 1541561910) Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

A few months ago, I shared Kao Kalia Yang’s A Map Into The World (Amazon | Book Depository) which I absolutely loved and enjoyed. However, this latest picturebook of hers is one of her best yet.

It is an ambitious, epic-like, intergenerational story that tackles heritage, identity, and more importantly the sustaining power of story: the ones that are passed down to younger generations by word of mouth, the details alive in one’s memory and spoken with one’s indomitable spirit, surmounting all odds:

This is a story of want, scarcity, and the defiant despair of always not having enough on the one hand; but on the other, there is dutiful service, open affection, and a rich history of overcoming whatever life offers – with one’s face upturned with quiet dignity.

Both these stories offer the reader spaces to find beauty in their own lives, take pause, and just bask in its glory, breathe in its blessing. 

#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 88-89 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

7 comments on “[Monday Reading] Of Beautiful Things Shared by Grandmothers in 2020 Picturebooks

  1. I’ve read and loved both of these books, Myra, happy to see you enjoyed them, too. Have a wonderful week ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I lived in Singapore for 3 1/2 years and worked as a substitute for SAS for one of those years. The Most Beautiful Thing looks like an excellent book. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing these beautiful books today.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Completely Full Bookshelf

    Your reviews are always so thoughtful! Both of these books sound equally and absolutely lovely—the former because the plot sounds so compelling, and the latter because I absolutely adored A Map into the World! And, shockingly, both of these books are available through my library—hooray! Thank you so much for the great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. These are both new to me picture books and they are BEAUTIFUL and the story sounds amazing as well! Thank you for sharing!

    Happy reading this week 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Gifts Of Rocks And Stones From Grandfathers – Gathering Books

  7. Pingback: [My 2021 in Books] Favourite PictureBooks Read in 2021 – #Top21of21 – Gathering Books

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