Andrea Wang was thinking about perfect picture book pairings recently. And, great minds must think alike, because I was doing the same thing.
For people who adore picture books, that’s common, I think. We read a book, love it, and then our minds say, “Oooo! That would go really well with this other book I know.” And, then, we feel the need to tell someone.
Or maybe that’s just me. Anyway, that’s where this blog post comes in.
LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE BOOK I RECENTLY READ:
ENOUGH IS … a new picture book written by Jessica Whipple and illustrated by Nicole Wong.
This book kind of blew me away. It’s the sort of book that made me ask, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Because the topic is so perfect and the style is just the sort of thing I would have loved to take credit for.
But I can’t, and that’s OK, because Jessica and Nicole did such a stellar job.
ENOUGH IS … addresses the age-old question, “How much is enough?” It’s one of those questions that applies equally well to small children, tweens, teens, young adults, middle-aged folks and senior citizens.
Whether you want the latest heavily marketed toy or iPhone, are trying to decide how much house you can afford, what you can spend on a vacation, or how much you’ll need to comfortably retire, it’s a question we’ve all pondered.
The book begins:
Somewhere, between a little and a lot, there is Enough.
It might be hard to spot, but it’s always there.
Sometimes, you have to squint to see Enough past New and Better, looking so bright and shiny.
Enough is hard to recognize.
The rest of the book gets quite profound as it offers relatable examples of what might be enough and how you’ll still likely have enough even if you share. It’s absolutely gorgeous, full of quotable lines, and you should procure it, read it and talk about it with someone in your life.
And, then … then … you should read …
THE OTHER BOOK IT MADE ME THINK OF:
NILA’S PERFECT COAT, a newish picture book written by Norene Paulson and illustrated by Maria Mola.
While ENOUGH IS … is a second-person, lyrical rumination about what it means to have enough, NILA’S PERFECT COAT follows classic picture book story structure written in third-person with the main character, Nila, solving a problem after some ups and downs.
You see, Nila has a perfectly serviceable winter coat. It fits, and it’s warm, and even though the zipper sometimes sticks, it gets the job done. But Nila sees another winter coat when she’s thrift store shopping and decides to use her birthday money to buy it. She likes the color better, and the zipper works more smoothly. But, when Nila realizes that one of her classmates doesn’t have a winter coat at all, she decides to give her new perfect coat away.
This book addresses the concept of “enough” without ever using that word. What I like about the story, beside Nila’s altruism, is how the parents let Nila make her own decisions. Does she want to spend $8 on the thirft store coat even though she already has a winter jacket? Does she want to offer the coat to her friend? They let her choose. And, they support her decisions.
I think this book would spark a really good conversation among kids. What would they do in a similar situation? Why didn’t Nila’s parents just pay for the thrift store coat? Why didn’t Nila give away the coat with the sticky zipper instead? What else could Nila have done? How could she have helped if she didn’t have an extra coat? Was it even her problem to solve?
Read both books together and you could have kids think about times when they feel they haven’t had enough and times where they felt they did. What things in their life could they do without if they had to? What are some things they don’t they have that they think would make their lives better?
These two books are also great examples of how you can address the same underlying subject in a picture book in so many different ways. So, as a writer, if one way isn’t working, try another. If you’re a writer or a writing teacher, you could read both books and then think of completely other ways to write a picture book about the same topic.
I hope you have the chance to check out these two titles, and to come up with some perfectly paired picture books on your own.