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.
Molly Beth Griffin (Rhoda's Rock Hunt) never explains the reason Lily must make her home with Gram. Instead, she packs her eloquent text with sensory details that masterfully link Lily's inner and outer journeys. Likewise, Maribel Lechuga's deftly colored and textured mix-media illustrations feature grand vistas as well as intimate closeups of the grandmother and granddaughter, evoking the unfolding wonders of this difficult trip. Ten Beautiful Things is a deeply touching, ultimately uplifting story. By the end of the drive, readers will know without a doubt, just as Lily does, that she now belongs here, with Gram. --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI