Why Am I Here? by Constance Ørbeck-Nilssen

Why Am I Here?

Constance Ørbeck-Nilssen, Author

Akin Duzakin, Illustrator

Erdmans Books for Young Readers, Oct. 14, 2016

Suitable for Ages: 5-9

Themes: Curiosity, Wonder, Compassion, Empathy

Opening: “I wonder why I am here, in this exact place. What if I were somewhere else — somewhere completely different from here.”

Synopsis: A child wonders why they are here, living the life they do. They could be on the other side of the globe living a very different life. Would they have been a different person? What if the lived in a city with millions of people? What if they lived in a place where there was a war and had to hide? What if they were a refugee on their way to an unfamiliar place? What if they lived where there were deserts, floods or earthquakes?  Is the child meant to live in some other place or are they right where they are supposed to be?

Why I like this book:

Constance Ørbeck-Nilssen has written a beautiful and quiet book for children who like to think big thoughts. It is a thought-provoking and contemplative story where the child imagines how different life would be if they lived in a variety of settings with a different family. The text is sensitive and powerful.

I fell in love with the book when Patricia Nozell reviewed it on her website, Wander, Ponder, Write. It would have been the type of picture book that would have touched my heart and tickled my curiosity as a child. Like the child in the story, I was introspective and pondered many of the same big questions.

The story is written in first person, with the child narrating. The story doesn’t identify the gender of the child. The child’s soft facial features, light brown skin and shaggy hair allows both boys and girls to identify with the character.

Akin Duzakin’s dreamy illustrations are rendered in pencil and soft pastels which soften the harsh realities of a world of homelessness, children working in an underground mines, war, refugees and natural disasters.  They evoke compassion from readers, but also convey warmth and hope at the end.

Resources: This is a good introduction book about the different lives children live in other parts of the world. It could lead to many interesting discussions between children and parents. It will also give kids a  better understanding of their place in the world.

My Amazing Day: A Celebration of Wonder and Gratitude

My Amazing Day51l75jxemhL__SX258_BO1,204,203,200_My Amazing Day: A Celebration of Wonder and Gratitude

Karin Fisher-Golton, Author

Lori A. Cheung, Photographer and Elizabeth Iwamiya, Designer

Pacific Dogwood Press, Fiction,  Nov. 1, 2013

Suitable for ages: 0-3

Themes: Wonder, Beauty, Gratitude

Opening“Today was amazing. In the morning, I heard singing.”

Book Jacket Synopsis: Every day is amazing! The ordinary world is extraordinary when seen through little one’s eyes. My Amazing Day is a remarkable everyday journey that ends with a happy burst of gratitude. People have long experienced that expressing gratitude brings them happiness. Now scientific studies show that  expressing gratitude leads to many health benefits as well. Sharing My Amazing Day can be a joyful way to help establish habits of gratitude with the youngest people in your life.

Why I like this book: Karin Fisher-Golton has written a charming and beautiful story about a toddler who experiences wonder in her day. Young children easily live in the moment. The text is very vivid and simple as a little girl awakens to a bird singing, eats a squishy banana for breakfast, bursts bubbles, plays with a furry pet and sees pictures in the clouds. The book ends with a beautiful “thank you” from the child for each experience she’s had during her day. This book is a gem and a perfect first book to gift a new mother. The photographs by Lori A Cheung  are luminous, joyful and a feast for the eyes. The design by Elizabeth Iwamiya is clean and fun. It is a board book toddlers can easily hold in their hands.

Resources: Visit Karin Fisher-Golton at her website. Use this book as a starting point because it is a resource to help your child notice the beauty and joy in the world around them–jumping in a puddle, eating an ice cream cone or picking a fistful of flowers. Show them how to cultivate gratitude by saying thank to the puddle, the ice cream cone and flower. This will come easily for children and be a good reminder for parents to cultivate the same virtue within themselves.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.