Name of Book: Something Beautiful
Author: Sharon Dennis Wyeth
Illustrator: Chris K. Soentpiet
Publisher: Dragonfly Books
Audience: Ages 7-9
Summary: A little girl in the city is tired of looking at the trash in the courtyard, graffitti on the walls of her building, and the homeless lady who lives in a cardboard box. She wants to see something beautiful. She believes that beautiful means “something that when you have it, your heart is happy.” When she asks her neighbors to show her something beautiful, they show her the simple things that surround them: a fried fish sandwich, a tasty apple, a smooth stone, and a laughing baby. Determined, the girl goes home and picks up the trash in the courtyard and scrubs the graffitti off the front door of her building. When her mother gets home, the little girl asks her if she has something beautiful and her mother replies, “Of course, I have you.”
Literary elements at work in the story: This story is written from the little girl’s point of view, so the reader never knows her name, which means it could be the perspective of any little girl growing up in the inner-city. The paintings on each page are bright and colorful and shed light to all the sights that the little girl sees in her neighborhood. It is a story about the little things that make life beautiful. It is about community, children’s innocence, the beauty of friendship and the power of hope.
(How) does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? The little girl clearly lives in a dangerous run-down neighborhood in the city with few resources. But even in the midst of crime and poverty, there is hope and beauty.
Theological conversation partners (scripture, confessions, doctrines, theologians, etc): Whenever we struggle with difficult times such as illness, job loss, divorce, or even death, there is something beautiful that can still be found. In our darkest times, we must be looking for the blessings of God to give us hope. Sometimes beauty is given to us and sometimes beauty can only be found if we work for it. The little girl made a decision to make her building more beautiful and she took the first step by picking up the trash and scrubbing away the graffitti. We, too, are called to be in community with others working towards building something beautiful. Possible Scripture texts to accompany this book are: Genesis 12:1-3 and Psalms 139:13-18.
Faith Talk Questions
- Tell me about something beautiful in your life. What is it and what makes it beautiful?
- Is there something close to home that could be made more beautiful? What is it and what can you do to make it so? What help and resources do you need to make it happen?
This review was prepared by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Amanda North.
Filed under: Book Reviews, Books written for Grades 1 -3 (Ages 6-8), Faith Questions For...., Older Elementary, Younger Elementary | Tagged: beauty, Genesis, Hope, Psalms, urban setting | Leave a Comment »