Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This moving picture book offers a shining testament to the ability of human beings to find "something beautiful" in even the most unlikely places. An African American girl initially sees only the ugliness of her neighborhood. There is "trash in the courtyard and a broken bottle that looks like fallen stars." On her front door, someone has scrawled the word "DIE," and a homeless lady "sleeps on the sidewalk, wrapped in plastic." Searching for something beautiful--"something that when you have it, your heart is happy"--she polls various neighbors. For an old man it is the touch of a smooth stone; for Miss Delphine, it's the taste of the fried fish sandwich in her diner; for Aunt Carolyn, it's the sound of her baby's laugh. When the girl decides to create her own "something beautiful," she picks up the trash, scrubs her door clean and realizes, "I feel powerful." Wyeth's (Always My Dad) restrained text is thoughtful without being didactic. She creates a city landscape that is neither too dark nor too sweet; and her ending is just right, with the heroine's mother saying that her daughter is her "something beautiful." Soentpiet's (Peacebound Trains) paintings are luminously lifelike. Whether depicting the girl running past a chain-link fence in a dark alley or Miss Delphine's patrons sitting beneath the rows of glinting glasses, the paintings focus on a community with characters so real, readers can almost feel the sunlight on their faces. All ages. (Sept.)
In PW's words, "This moving picture book offers a shining testament to the ability of human beings to find `something beautiful' in even the most unlikely places." All ages. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Carolyn Dennette Michaels
Saddened by the ugliness of her inner-city apartment building and neighborhood, Wyeth's unnamed protagonist finds inspiration in her teacher's writing of the word 'beautiful' on the blackboard. "The teacher taught me the word b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l ...I think it means that, when you have it, your heart is happy." As she walks home from school, pondering the connection between 'beautiful' and a happy heart, neighbors share their own happy things with her-apples, a jump rope, beads, a sizzling fish sandwich, and a smooth pocket stone. Her experience of the beauty of friendship and the power of hope inspire her to positive action. She scrubs the offending graffiti from her front door and sweeps away the broken glass in the yard. Then-"I feel powerful". When her mother comes home from work, the girl asks, "Do you have something beautiful? Of course, I have you!" A believable piece of inspirational writing set within luminous paintings that celebrate the human spirit.
From the Publisher
“This moving picture book offers a shining testament to the ability of human beings to find ‘something beautiful’ in even the most unlikely places.”—Publishers Weekly
Read an Excerpt
When I look through my window, I see a brick wall. There is trash in the courtyard and a broken bottle that looks like fallen stars.
There is writing in the halls of my building. On the front door, someone wrote the word Die.
The teacher taught me the word in school. I wrote it in my book. B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. Beautiful! I think it means something that when you have it, your heart is happy.
From the Trade Paperback edition.