Playing from the Heart
by Peter H. Reynolds
Candlewick Press, 2016
Raj discovers piano and, with a natural talent and no lessons, creates dreamy music that floats through his house. He is given piano lessons and his songs become more familiar, crisp and precise. Yet, while he plays better, he gets more and more tired, until one day he quits playing. Many years later, his father asks him to play a song. Reluctantly he moves to the piano. Then his father asks him to play, “The song without a name,” Raj returns to his early passion and notes emerge whispery and sweet.
The story subtly reminds readers to return to and stay focused on the heart in pursuing their passions. Pursing ‘perfection’ over ‘joy’ can tarnish and end a joy.
Peter H Reynolds black and white drawings with musical notes featured in color splashes, portrays a whispery, whimsical feel to the music expressed. Reynolds believes, “Creativity thrives on bravery and originality” and the book does an exquisite job of instilling this in young readers.
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Little Miss, Big Sis
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2015
Big sibling/little sibling stories generally don’t appeal to me, but this one is simple, direct, poetic, and completely drew me in. The words and illustrations support each other so well, I’m still surprised they were not done by the same person.
The story spans from before birth through toddler showing the stages and challenges a Big Sis goes through with a new sibling: from waiting to become a big sis, to going to the hospital, to feeding the new baby. Words and illustrations sweetly and humorously show Big Sis’ experiences, including a drooling, food-throwing, and hair-pulling baby, as well as a clapping, napping, and loose-in-the-house baby. The book has total ‘toddler-appeal’.
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by Peter H. Reynolds
Candlewick Press, 2004
This book is for all the perfectionists—or children of perfectionists!
Ramon is a drawer. He draws everywhere and all the time. One day his older brother laughs at his drawing of flowers in a vase, asking, “What is that!” So shamed, Ramon shoves his picture and pencils across the table. Trying to get his next drawing ‘right’, he tries again and again, and soon a pile of crumbled papers lie on the floor. Unable to make it perfect, he gives up. He barks at his little sister, but she picks up one of his drawings and runs to her room. He chases her to retrieve it and when he reaches her room, he’s stunned. His crumbled pictures are taped all over her walls. She points to her favorite and Ramon laments that it was supposed to be a vase of flowers, but it doesn’t look like one. His sister exclaims, “Well, it looks vase-ISH!” Ramon’s world returns and he begins to draw, naming his masterpieces: boat-ish, vase-ish, silly-ish.
This book opens the creative spark and freedom of expression and gives creators a new way to see their work. A book as important to the child as it is to the adult reading it.