Ten Beautiful Things by Molly Griffin

Ten Beautiful Things by Molly Griffin
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Contemporary
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

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.

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. 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 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.

Kindness makes everything better.

Lily and her grandmother had such a warm and loving relationship. I appreciated the fact that the narrator focused on what a big change it was for a young child to move in with her grandmother instead of explaining to the audience why this was necessary. Leaving that background detail up to the audience’s imagination meant that this story could appeal to children who need to adjust to living with new legal guardians for any number of reasons. What mattered was that Lily was frightened by this move and that her grandmother had come up with a clever way to help and comfort this girl.

One of my favorite scenes happened early on when the grandmother asked Lily to come up with ten beautiful things as they drove home. The protagonist was skeptical of this idea for understandable reasons, but what happened on the next page instantly endeared me to both of these characters. It was simultaneously delightful as well as something that felt realistic and natural for the plot.

It was also delightful to see how these two characters learned to agree upon what should count for their list. They took a creative approach to filling out certain portions of it. Not only did that work nicely for the storyline, it also made perfect sense based on how Lily was feeling about all of the transitions in her life. I appreciated the fact that the narrator continued to acknowledge the mixed emotions in this child while also gently encouraging her and the reader to look forward to better days.

Ten Beautiful Things was a remarkable tale that I’d enthusiastically recommend to readers of all ages.

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