Ten Beautiful Things & Kiyoshi’s Walk

Two lovely new picture books subtly address loneliness, compassion, wisdom, creativity and the beauty surrounding us. These Age Positive picture books, Ten Beautiful Things and Kiyoshi’s Walk, do this in such an exceptional way that both adults and children will come away with renewed appreciation for the poetry to be found in ordinary living, whether they live in rural settings or in a city.


Ten Beautiful Things

By Molly Beth Griffin; illustrated by Maribel Lechuga

Charlesbridge; 2021

Ten Beautiful Things illustration

In Ten Beautiful Things “Lily and her grandmother search for ten beautiful things as they take a long car ride to Iowa and Lily’s new home with Gran. At first, Lily sees nothing beautiful in the April slush and cloudy sky.

illustration in Ten Beautiful Things

Soon though, Lily can see beauty in unexpected places, from the smell of spring mud to a cloud shaped like a swan to a dilapidated barn. A furious rainstorm mirrors Lily’s anxiety, but as it clears Lily discovers the tenth beautiful thing: Lily and Gran and their love for each other.

Ten Beautiful Things illustration by Maribel Lechuga

Ten Beautiful Things leaves the exact cause of Lily’s move ambiguous, making it perfect for anyone helping a child navigate change, whether it be the loss of a parent, entering or leaving a foster home, or moving.” (Book description at Bookshop.org)

Kiyoshi’s Walk

by Mark Karlins; illustrated by Nicole Wong

Lee & Low Books Inc.; 2021

Kiyoshi’s Walk

Kiyoshi’s Walk:After Kiyoshi watches his grandfather, Eto, compose his delicate haiku, he wonders out loud: “Where do poems come from?”

illustration in Kiyoshi’s Walk

His grandfather answers by taking him on a walk through their city, where they see a cat perched on a hill of oranges; hear the fluttering of wings; imagine what’s behind a tall wall; and discuss their walk, with each incident inspiring a wonderful new haiku from Eto.

Art in Kiyoshi’s Walk

As Kiyoshi discovers that poems come from the way the world outside of us meets the world within each of us, he also finds the courage to write a haiku of his own.” (Book description from Lee & Low Books)

Kiyoshi, and also Lily in Ten Beautiful Things learn the comfort found just being with a wise, compassionate grandparent. Both also learn to observe the world carefully, looking for beauty and finding it.

As evening shadows fall, the day cools and other children leave the park, Kiyoshi feels lonely.

illustration in Kiyoshi’s Walk

“They sat for a moment in silence.

‘May I write a poem?’ Kiyoshi asked

Eto nodded.

Kiyoshi took a deep breath and wrote:

            In the cool spring night

            The wind’s dance makes me shiver.

            Your voice keeps me warm.

Eto read his grandson’s poem. He smiled.” (Text by Mark Karlins; Kiyoshi’s Walk)

In Ten Beautiful Things, Lily is lonely too, and obviously coping with loss. But she also feels the special accepting warmth of a grandparent’s love.

“Gram came around with the umbrella,

and Lily stepped out of the car.

We’re ten,’ Gram said.

Lily sank into her familiar hug.

None of this was easy.

Maybe it would never be easy.

But she belonged with Gram now.

She belonged here now.” (Text by Molly Beth Griffin; Ten Beautiful Things)

illustration in Ten Beautiful Things

A theme of creativity in later life ties these two Age Positive picture books together in my mind. The kind of creativity that enables the “secret of living with one’s entire being.” The kind of creativity that comes with living many years.

Gene Cohen, M.D. discusses this “secret” extensively in his book The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life. “It is the creativity that empowers us…and that enable us to participate in life as a journey of exploration, discovery, and self-expression,” he states.

“It can occur at any age and under any circumstances, but the richness of experience that age provides us magnifies the possibilities tremendously,” adds Dr. Cohen. “The unique combination of creativity and life experience creates a dynamic dimension for inner growth with aging.”

As author Mark Karlins shares in his note at the end of Kiyoshi’s Walk:

“If we look with a poet’s eye, everything becomes poetry.”

Older adults can often show kids how to live fully while coping with losses in life. How to cope daily with small stresses and the subtle negative feelings that change our moods. And how to reach for happiness.

Read more on late life happiness.

Activity idea: Why not use these two amazing picture books to discuss this question with children—how did this grandmother and this grandfather gain the knowledge, the compassion and the ability to see the beauty in everything around them?

(Answer: Years of living. Years of observing the world. Years of practice. Years of experience.)

I reviewed my own copy of Ten Beautiful Things and a library copy of Kiyoshi’s Walk.

This review is part of Perfect Picture Book Fridays at Susanna Hill’s blog. Find more great books there!

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4 Responses to Ten Beautiful Things & Kiyoshi’s Walk

  1. Jilanne F Hoffmann says:

    These both sound like such beautiful books! Both sensitive and wise in their portrayal of older adults. It sounds like they make a great pairing. Thanks for the recs, Lindsey!

    • lindseymcd says:

      It’s such a treat to find such special picture books Jilanne! I’m so glad you liked the pairing!
      I appreciate your comment!

  2. What beautiful and peaceful intergenerational stories. I love and want to read them both. The books do compliment each other. Love the illustrations! Thank you for sharing them today!

    • lindseymcd says:

      So very lovely Patricia–in words and pictures! I hope you’ll find them. Thanks for commenting.

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