Each being shares traits with other beings. Some of those characteristics are broad, others are more particular. No matter your age, you know this to be true. We, too, are drawn to those who share common interests. This is how connections, bonds, and friendships are formed.
It is only as those connections, bonds, and friendships grow that acknowledgements and adjustments are made. Something Beautiful (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, June 7, 2022) written and illustrated by Lita Judge explores how individuals embrace each other initially because of shared pursuits. As their circle of friends expands, something wondrous happens.
Ball was Mouse's favorite
and with it, he played alone.
Elephant arrived, wanting to play with Mouse and Ball. Together they had fabulous fun. A trio of pals formed when Giraffe appeared. Their interests were in perfect sync.
They didn't think anyone else was necessary to increase their joy. Soon, a prickly critter called out a greeting. Mouse, Elephant, and Giraffe were hesitant to welcome Porcupine. His idea of playing and snacking were weird.
Porcupine opened up a whole new view of the world for the other three animals when teaching them how to climb trees. What could possibly be better than this? Joy and the power of imagination burst over the foursome when Warthog danced beneath the tree.
She was everything they could possibly want until the running group unexpectedly bumped into Lion. Lion was sitting alone. He did not want to play when invited to join the group, so they sat with him. In those moments, Mouse, Elephant, Giraffe, Porcupine, and Warthog understood the value of stillness and what it could reveal. Six friends in their time together did find another truth, the most priceless truth of all.
From the first simple sentence, Lita Judge invites us into the story. We realize because alone is the final word in that sentence, Mouse will have company soon. With a page turn and another single sentence, Elephant is introduced. When each new animal makes an appearance, Lita Judge provides us with a few additional details. These details not only give us hints into the personalities of Elephant, Giraffe, Porcupine, Warthog, and Lion, but enlarge our view of the blossoming friendships and the definition of beautiful. Here are three consecutive sentences.
Warthog has a heart full of sunshine
and a head full of dreams.
Together, they discovered that flowers
were magic wands in disguise
and that ears can be
turned into wings.
Mouse, Elephant, Giraffe, Porcupine and Warthog
needed no one else
but then . . .
In looking at the open and matching dust jacket and book case, the first thing readers notice is the endearing trio. Their facial expressions have us wondering what each of them are thinking. The presence of Ball and the blue butterflies are full of promise. To the left of the spine, we are treated to text praising two previous titles, Flight School and Red Sled, both written and illustrated by Lita Judge. In the lower left-hand portion of the back, Porcupine does a little jig, leaves stuck to his quills. Several blue butterflies flutter nearby. Ball is above Porcupine. What will happen when gravity takes over? On the dust jacket the title text is embossed in a stunning blue hue. Lita Judge's name, the butterflies and Ball are varnished.
A vivid robin's egg blue covers the opening and closing endpapers. With a page turn, we see Mouse scampering toward the lower right-hand corner of the right page. On the formal title page, Mouse stands next to Ball.
One of the things in Lita Judge's artwork is her masterful use of white space. It frames her characters. It seems to hug them and lift them up.
watercolor and digital editing,
these images depict energetic playfulness, joyous abandonment, calm contentment and curiosity, gracious acceptance, and pure wonderment. Readers will delight at the details, the settings, and the looks on each of the characters' faces. As you turn the pages, you find yourself continuously smiling and even laughing out loud. (You will also find yourself looking more intently at the pictures. Doesn't that knot in the tree look like Warthog's belly?)
One of my many favorite pictures is a single-page illustration. A large oval with softened edges is surrounded by white space. Near a tree is Porcupine. Leaves are stuck to his quills. Ball is stuck on top of his head. He is gnawing on his favorite snack, a gnarly twig. Mouse is trying it, but says (outside the frame)
We need to embody the sincere wisdom found in the words and artwork in Something Beautiful written and illustrated by Lita Judge. The openness of the animals and their willingness to accept differences leads to exquisite joy and the ultimate revelation. I highly recommend this title for your personal and professional collections.