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Uplifting Picture Books That Don't Preach
My Beautiful Child
My Beautiful Child
by Lisa Desimini, illustrated by Matt Mahurin
Blue Sky Press/Scholastic,(2004)
I want to show you everything, my beautiful child.
I want to show you how big the sky is . . .
and how green the grass is.
I want to show you how perfect a flower is . . .
and how soft a blanket can be . . .
--My Beautiful Child, by Lisa Desimini, illustrated by Matt Mahurin, p. 1-8.
The book is like a parent speaking directly to the child reading the story, telling her/him about the beauty and wonder of the world and of the child.
The text is simple and soothing, and reminds readers of the many beautiful and wonderful things there are in the world to see, feel, and experience—the warmth of the sun, softness of a blanket, the vastness of the sky, the smell of a spring day—and also, of the child her/him self, their strong cry, their bright smile. The text flows well, evokes emotional responses and images, and is gentle and thoughtful. This is not a story so much as a one-sided, loving conversation between the author and the reader. The text feels like a heart lullabye, soulful and caring.
The illustrations are painted in bright, happy colors, perhaps digitally, showing kind interactions between parent and child. Each painting depicts a different parent and child, (mother and son, father and daughter) showing various races and situations. The art is smooth, almost flat; I found myself wishing for a bit more texture and detail. Sometimes the faces are almost blurred or obscured, and for me, this took away some of the enjoyment. Yet there are details, such as dirt streaking from a child's t-shirt and jeans, the veins in a leaf, that help make the work beautiful.
The text and illustrations compliment each other, though for me, it's the fantasy-element of the paintings that take this book over the top; they build on and show more than the text does, creating magical scenes (making the earth through blue and green cereal balls, having a child almost look like a grass girl with a grass skirt and hair) or events that rarely seem to happen a father allowing his daughter to create and fly paper airplanes with work from his briefcase, a bird alighting on a mother's toe).
The parents in each painting are always present with the child, and most often appear very loving. The last line of the book may be especially comforting to some readers: "My beautiful child, I want to show you everything. . . /especially how much I love you."
This book is a gentle, loving reminder of the beauty available to us in the world and in ourselves, and of the importance of taking time to see it, and to connect with the people we love. It may help a reader feel safe and loved. Recommended.
-Added November 2006
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