Something Beautiful

By Sharon Dennis Wyeth
Do you have something beautiful?
Our young, nameless protagonist is a black girl growing up in a not-so-beautiful neighbourhood. Trash fills her courtyard, and someone has painted “die” across her door. Homeless people sleep on the streets, wrapped in plastic and cardboard. But her mother once told her that everyone has something beautiful in their life – where is hers?
Something Beautiful is a journey through this young girl’s neighbourhood, interacting with different people to find their something beautiful; that thing that makes their heart glad. For some people it’s a stone, for others the laugh of a child, or a special meal.
The strength of this story is how thought-provoking it is. What is your something beautiful? You don’t need to have grown up in a similar neighbour to our protagonist to understand her struggle. We all wish for something that is special, and that makes her that much more identifiable. All the pleasures she finds are simple ones, and maybe it will help us remember that we don’t need big things to make us happy. Hold onto the small things.
The illustrations, courtesy of Christ K Soentpiet, are beautiful. My favorite illustration is the haunting depiction of the homeless lady, who uses plastic as a blanket. You won’t soon forget that image. Each character is unique and exquisitely depicted, even if you’re only seeing them from behind. The dour images of filth and decay in her courtyard are counterbalanced by the smiles on the faces of everyone she meets. Little girl is something beautiful.
This is a simple, brilliant story for children. Something Beautiful needs nothing else beyond what it has to make itself stand out. It is haunting and uplifting all at once, and will stay with you and your child long after you finish reading it.
Suggested ages: 6-9
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