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


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

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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

September 6, 2021 at 06:30AM Myra Garces-Bacsal