picture books

Hardcover | $16.99
Published by Charlesbridge
Jan 12, 2021 | 32 Pages | 11 x 8-1/2
5-8 years | ISBN 9781580899369

Ten Beautiful Things

A heartfelt story of changing perspectives, set in the Midwest. Ten Beautiful Things gently explores loss, a new home, and finding beauty wherever you are.

By Molly Beth Griffin
Illustrated by Maribel LeChuga

Lily and her grandmother search for ten beautiful things as they take a long car ride to Iowa and Lily’s new home with Gram. At first, Lily sees nothing beautiful in the April slush and cloudy sky. 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 Gram and their love for each other.

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.

Shelf Awareness, starred review

Discover: In this deeply touching story, Lily must move to Iowa to live with Gram, who suggests they find 10 beautiful things along the way.

Ten Beautiful Things is a gentle, affecting story about a young girl coming to terms with leaving her home behind to move in with her Gram. 

All Lily knows about where she will live with Gram is the “X” marked on “an empty patch of land” on her map. Gram, knowing change is hard, suggests the pair work together to find 10 beautiful things along the way to Iowa. Lily doubts they will find beauty, but when dawn breaks, she’s awed by a magnificent sunrise–she’s found “number one!” They drive on and, just as Lily feels “the complaints starting in her belly again,” Gram points to number two: “spinning windmill blades” that gleam in the morning sun. Lily quickly finds number three, “a red-winged blackbird perched on a swaying stalk of last year’s corn,” and the two travelers continue their search for all 10 things, finding a “falling-apart barn,” the rich smell of mud and a swan-shaped cloud.

read full review

Publishers Weekly, starred review

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.

read full review

Booklist, starred review

The journey begins before dawn. Lily’s in the backseat of Gram’s small car with her backpack by her side, her luggage strapped to the roof, and a map of Iowa on her lap. When her grandmother proposes that they find 10 beautiful things along the way, Lily is doubtful. “You’d be surprised,” says Gram. Number one is sunrise. It’s a long day, and even the crackers Lily eats don’t fill the hollow place inside her. Still, she and Gram call out each new beauty: a wind farm, a red-winged blackbird, and flashes of lightning. When they reach Gram’s farmhouse, she hugs Lily and whispers, “We’re ten.” And Lily relaxes, knowing she belongs with Gram for now. While the child is clearly carrying a burden, her grandmother’s game gives her a technique for looking outside herself and connecting with the world. The looming question, why Lily needs to live with her grandmother, goes unanswered, allowing space for children to create their own answers. But for many, the fact that Lily has Gram will be enough. Griffin’s narrative is both plainspoken and pitch-perfect. From close-ups of characters to rural landscapes with shifting light, colors, and weather, Lechuga’s handsome digital pictures illustrate the story expressively. An emotionally resonant picture book. 

Kirkus Reviews, starred review

The simple act of looking for beautiful things can help make life itself beautiful again.

Change isn’t easy, especially for a young girl named Lily who must move—without parents—from the city across Iowa to Gram’s farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. The reason for Lily’s move is not explained, but all her things are packed in Gram’s car for the daylong journey. When Gram first suggests finding “ten beautiful things along the way,” Lily sees “nothing beautiful.” But soon Lily gasps at the “very moment…the sun [breaks] over the long horizon.” Beautiful thing No. 1. Lechuga’s emotion-laden cameos of Lily in the back seat capture the child’s grief and anxiety, described as “complaints starting in her belly again, coming up her throat, and nearly out her mouth.” Luckily, beautiful things change Lily’s mood. Lily breathes in the smell of mud at a rest area, and the smell “pour[s] itself into some of the empty spaces in her.” Other beautiful things help: a wind farm with white vanes whirling against a violet sky, a red-winged blackbird “perched on a swaying stalk of last year’s corn,” and even a “falling-apart barn” that may be beautiful even if it’s not pretty. Two consecutive spreads capture the force and drama of an Iowa thunderstorm exploding on the plain, which is beautiful thing No. 9. Arriving at Gram’s house, Lily understands that change will not be easy, but she belongs with Gram now: No. 10. Both Lily and Gram present as White.

Stunning illustrations and a quiet appreciation of the natural world combine to create a positive message about change.

read full review

Hardcover | $16.99
Published by Charlesbridge
Jan 12, 2021 | 32 Pages | 11 x 8-1/2
5-8 years | ISBN 9781580899369

Ten Beautiful Things

A heartfelt story of changing perspectives, set in the Midwest. Ten Beautiful Things gently explores loss, a new home, and finding beauty wherever you are.

By Molly Beth Griffin
Illustrated by Maribel LeChuga

Lily and her grandmother search for ten beautiful things as they take a long car ride to Iowa and Lily’s new home with Gram. At first, Lily sees nothing beautiful in the April slush and cloudy sky. 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 Gram and their love for each other.

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.

Shelf Awareness, starred review

Discover: In this deeply touching story, Lily must move to Iowa to live with Gram, who suggests they find 10 beautiful things along the way.

Ten Beautiful Things is a gentle, affecting story about a young girl coming to terms with leaving her home behind to move in with her Gram. 

All Lily knows about where she will live with Gram is the “X” marked on “an empty patch of land” on her map. Gram, knowing change is hard, suggests the pair work together to find 10 beautiful things along the way to Iowa. Lily doubts they will find beauty, but when dawn breaks, she’s awed by a magnificent sunrise–she’s found “number one!” They drive on and, just as Lily feels “the complaints starting in her belly again,” Gram points to number two: “spinning windmill blades” that gleam in the morning sun. Lily quickly finds number three, “a red-winged blackbird perched on a swaying stalk of last year’s corn,” and the two travelers continue their search for all 10 things, finding a “falling-apart barn,” the rich smell of mud and a swan-shaped cloud.

read full review

Publishers Weekly, starred review

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.

read full review

Booklist, starred review

The journey begins before dawn. Lily’s in the backseat of Gram’s small car with her backpack by her side, her luggage strapped to the roof, and a map of Iowa on her lap. When her grandmother proposes that they find 10 beautiful things along the way, Lily is doubtful. “You’d be surprised,” says Gram. Number one is sunrise. It’s a long day, and even the crackers Lily eats don’t fill the hollow place inside her. Still, she and Gram call out each new beauty: a wind farm, a red-winged blackbird, and flashes of lightning. When they reach Gram’s farmhouse, she hugs Lily and whispers, “We’re ten.” And Lily relaxes, knowing she belongs with Gram for now. While the child is clearly carrying a burden, her grandmother’s game gives her a technique for looking outside herself and connecting with the world. The looming question, why Lily needs to live with her grandmother, goes unanswered, allowing space for children to create their own answers. But for many, the fact that Lily has Gram will be enough. Griffin’s narrative is both plainspoken and pitch-perfect. From close-ups of characters to rural landscapes with shifting light, colors, and weather, Lechuga’s handsome digital pictures illustrate the story expressively. An emotionally resonant picture book. 

Kirkus Reviews, starred review

The simple act of looking for beautiful things can help make life itself beautiful again.

Change isn’t easy, especially for a young girl named Lily who must move—without parents—from the city across Iowa to Gram’s farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. The reason for Lily’s move is not explained, but all her things are packed in Gram’s car for the daylong journey. When Gram first suggests finding “ten beautiful things along the way,” Lily sees “nothing beautiful.” But soon Lily gasps at the “very moment…the sun [breaks] over the long horizon.” Beautiful thing No. 1. Lechuga’s emotion-laden cameos of Lily in the back seat capture the child’s grief and anxiety, described as “complaints starting in her belly again, coming up her throat, and nearly out her mouth.” Luckily, beautiful things change Lily’s mood. Lily breathes in the smell of mud at a rest area, and the smell “pour[s] itself into some of the empty spaces in her.” Other beautiful things help: a wind farm with white vanes whirling against a violet sky, a red-winged blackbird “perched on a swaying stalk of last year’s corn,” and even a “falling-apart barn” that may be beautiful even if it’s not pretty. Two consecutive spreads capture the force and drama of an Iowa thunderstorm exploding on the plain, which is beautiful thing No. 9. Arriving at Gram’s house, Lily understands that change will not be easy, but she belongs with Gram now: No. 10. Both Lily and Gram present as White.

Stunning illustrations and a quiet appreciation of the natural world combine to create a positive message about change.

read full review

Format: Cloth, Children’s Picture Book
Published by MHS Press
October 2014
32pp | 10 x 10 | fully illustrated
Ages 3-7 | ISBN-10: 0873519507

Rhoda’s Rock Hunt

Hike alongside Rhoda as she collects rock after rock, “red ones and blue ones and stripy ones,” from forest and river and lake, on a north woods adventure.

By Molly Beth Griffin
Illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell

Rhoda is on a long, long hike with her aunt and uncle, each of them carrying backpacks of gear as they walk through the north woods. While Auntie June and Uncle Jonah watch for wildlife and set up their campsites, Rhoda is on the hunt for one thing: ROCKS.

She finds them in all shapes and patterns, from hearts and hats to stripes and sparkles. And every last treasure goes into her pack, making it heavier and heavier as they hike through forests and along streams. Soon Rhoda is sweaty, and tired of salami sandwiches, and wishing for her own bed. Then, on the last day, they come to the Big Lake. And its beach is covered in rocks. Rhoda can’t believe her luck.

After hours of play and even more rock discoveries, it’s time to head for home. By now Rhoda’s pack is too heavy to lift. Will she give up her rocks and return to the cabin for a real shower, a hot meal, and a soft bed? Or will she stay on the beach forever with her beloved collection? Her clever solution makes the most of her treasures–and offers delights for other hikers.

Kirkus Reviews

It’s a haul-your-own-stuff and pitch-a-tent-in-a-new-place-each-night excursion, calling on Rhoda to reach deep into her reserve of gumption. Luckily, she really loves looking for rocks along the way. Her aunt smiles at the rock collecting, as long as Rhoda carries them in her own backpack. Rhoda likes the bucket shower in the cold lake, the salami sandwiches and old ratty sleeping bag, but as the hike continues—and her bag gets heavier with all those special rocks—Rhoda’s laugh disappears, and a decidedly grumpy girl emerges. But when she finally reaches her beach destination, Rhoda’s energy and enthusiasm return, especially when she thinks about the comforts of a cabin and the gorgeous beach rocks. But after some serious beachcombing, Rhoda cannot begin to move the heavy load of rocks. Young nature lovers and hikers will celebrate Rhoda’s creative solution. Droll, green-toned illustrations highlight Rhoda’s every emotion. She’s about 8, and readers see her body droop, eyebrows rise in frustration and even her socks fall, while her hair flies all over the place. Repetition and careful word choice (easy to decode and familiar) make this a picture book to share or read independently.

Rock collectors will smile at her cairns and will be better able to leave behind beloved rocks.

read full review

Publishers Weekly

“Quietly perceptive […] speaks to the importance of memories over materials.”  

read full review

Format: Cloth, Children’s Picture Book
Published by MHS Press
October 2014
32pp | 10 x 10 | fully illustrated
Ages 3-7 | ISBN-10: 0873519507

Rhoda’s Rock Hunt

Hike alongside Rhoda as she collects rock after rock, “red ones and blue ones and stripy ones,” from forest and river and lake, on a north woods adventure.

By Molly Beth Griffin
Illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell

Rhoda is on a long, long hike with her aunt and uncle, each of them carrying backpacks of gear as they walk through the north woods. While Auntie June and Uncle Jonah watch for wildlife and set up their campsites, Rhoda is on the hunt for one thing: ROCKS.

She finds them in all shapes and patterns, from hearts and hats to stripes and sparkles. And every last treasure goes into her pack, making it heavier and heavier as they hike through forests and along streams. Soon Rhoda is sweaty, and tired of salami sandwiches, and wishing for her own bed. Then, on the last day, they come to the Big Lake. And its beach is covered in rocks. Rhoda can’t believe her luck.

After hours of play and even more rock discoveries, it’s time to head for home. By now Rhoda’s pack is too heavy to lift. Will she give up her rocks and return to the cabin for a real shower, a hot meal, and a soft bed? Or will she stay on the beach forever with her beloved collection? Her clever solution makes the most of her treasures–and offers delights for other hikers.

Kirkus Reviews

It’s a haul-your-own-stuff and pitch-a-tent-in-a-new-place-each-night excursion, calling on Rhoda to reach deep into her reserve of gumption. Luckily, she really loves looking for rocks along the way. Her aunt smiles at the rock collecting, as long as Rhoda carries them in her own backpack. Rhoda likes the bucket shower in the cold lake, the salami sandwiches and old ratty sleeping bag, but as the hike continues—and her bag gets heavier with all those special rocks—Rhoda’s laugh disappears, and a decidedly grumpy girl emerges. But when she finally reaches her beach destination, Rhoda’s energy and enthusiasm return, especially when she thinks about the comforts of a cabin and the gorgeous beach rocks. But after some serious beachcombing, Rhoda cannot begin to move the heavy load of rocks. Young nature lovers and hikers will celebrate Rhoda’s creative solution. Droll, green-toned illustrations highlight Rhoda’s every emotion. She’s about 8, and readers see her body droop, eyebrows rise in frustration and even her socks fall, while her hair flies all over the place. Repetition and careful word choice (easy to decode and familiar) make this a picture book to share or read independently.

Rock collectors will smile at her cairns and will be better able to leave behind beloved rocks.

read full review

Publishers Weekly

“Quietly perceptive […] speaks to the importance of memories over materials.”  

read full review

Hardcover 
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
March 2011 | 32 Pages
4-8 years | ISBN 978-0-547-25487-6

Loon Baby

Atop the rippling waves the breeze ruffling his fluff— Loon Baby waits, alone, and wonders: Will his mother ever come back?

By Molly Beth Griffin
Illustrated by Anne Hunter

With sensitivity and a spare prose, first-time author Molly Beth Griffin navigates the quiet panic that Loon Baby experiences in the absence of Mama. Anne Hunter’s soft cross-hatched and watercolor paintings shape a serene lake-scape with varied scenes that amplify and illuminate the emotion this book captures.

Kirkus Reviews

“Guaranteed to hit the mark with anyone who’s ever felt lost and alone.”

read full review

Booklist

“This lovely picture book addresses a child’s fear of abandonment and offers the reassurance of a mother’s love.” 

Publishers Weekly

“While understated, the story has a sturdy quality that should stand up to repeated read-alouds.”

read full review

Hardcover 
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
March 2011 | 32 Pages
4-8 years | ISBN 978-0-547-25487-6

Loon Baby

Atop the rippling waves the breeze ruffling his fluff— Loon Baby waits, alone, and wonders: Will his mother ever come back?

By Molly Beth Griffin
Illustrated by Anne Hunter

With sensitivity and a spare prose, first-time author Molly Beth Griffin navigates the quiet panic that Loon Baby experiences in the absence of Mama. Anne Hunter’s soft cross-hatched and watercolor paintings shape a serene lake-scape with varied scenes that amplify and illuminate the emotion this book captures.

Kirkus Reviews

“Guaranteed to hit the mark with anyone who’s ever felt lost and alone.”

read full review

Booklist

“This lovely picture book addresses a child’s fear of abandonment and offers the reassurance of a mother’s love.” 

Publishers Weekly

“While understated, the story has a sturdy quality that should stand up to repeated read-alouds.”

read full review