Wisdom, they say, is wasted on the young. But in the case of these lovely picture books full of sage advice, a few things might just stick to help the middle-years kids on their way…
by Neil Gaiman
ISBN: 978 0 06 196030 7
Audience: grades 3-6
Gaiman, a master of the fantastical, presents a small jewel of a book, full of instructions for walking through. It reads like a fairy tale, and the well-versed reader can spot references to classic fairy tales sprinkled all through – but it’s more than just the tale it appears to be, for the lessons found in fairy tales are lessons for life.
Readers are advised on things both entirely make-believe (giants sleep too soundly) and everyday practical (Do not forget your manners.), but sometimes, those things cross over. If an eagle gives you a feather, keep it safe. It’s a lovely book to read over and over, both as a story and, later, as a font of advice for following the journey, and the path back to home.
When you reach the little house,
the place your journey started,
you will recognize it, although it will seem
much smaller than you remember.
This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations
by Amy K Rosenthal
ISBN: 978 0 06 172655 2
Audience: kindergarten – grade 3
This little book breaks things down to essentials in a series of “equations” that highlight key ingredients. They range from the simple (1+1=us) to the fun (barefoot + screen door + popsicles = summer). There are equations that speak to children on their level (tall + coffee = grownup), and some that are little lessons about living together (chores / everyone = family) or about those things we need to do along the way (practice + practice = learning, practice + practice + practice = mastering).
this book, as we’ve all come to expect from Rosenthal, is both sage and sweet, full of the kind of gentle wisdom for children that is her specialty. The illustrations match this well, being a little cute and a little quirky, with just the right touch of fun and familiarity to catch the mood of the “equation” and illustrate it for the reader. It’s light reading, but this book is a charming little gem.