cover image Ten Beautiful Things

Ten Beautiful Things

Molly Beth Griffin, illus. by Maribel LeChuga. Charlesbridge, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58089-936-9

Before dawn, Lily and her Gram, both white, drive out from a city to begin a life together on Gram’s Iowa farm. Lily’s in the backseat next to her purple backpack and a box marked “STUFF”; more belongings are strapped to the car roof. Readers aren’t told why Lily is headed to live with her grandmother, but as she looks around with anxious eyes, Griffin (Rhoda’s Rock Hunt) beautifully articulates her sense of displacement: “Gram’s car tires hummed against the pavement. Lily felt the vibration in her hollow chest.” Then Gram comes up with the game of finding 10 beautiful things along the way, and as their list grows—a rural sunrise, a wind farm churning under pink clouds, a thunderstorm breaking across the plains (“Cloud banks traded lightning back and forth, showing off”)—LeChuga’s (Seaside Stroll) digital drawings feel almost cinematic, alternating between dramatic vistas and intense moments of introspection and connection. When Gram tells Lily that the 10th beautiful thing is their love for one another, the girl realizes that while the changes in her life mean that “none of this was easy,” she is where she belongs—and readers will know they’ve been fortunate to accompany her on this life-changing, emotionally expansive journey. Ages 5–8. [em](Jan.) [/em]