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The Children's Bookshelf: The Little Book of JOY - November 20, 2022

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The Little Book of JOY written by two spiritual masters His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams and Rachel Neumann and illustrated by Rafael López is a beautifully put forth picture book about what the feeling of joy is and where and how joy can be found in daily life.

The opening several illustrations show two boys, one living in a small house looking at a book and the other boy living in a big spacious house playing with a small wooden train set. The two boys live on opposite sides of the world, and they are both sad and lonely and long for a friend.

The illustrations show the two boys discovering something important-----when they stop feeling sad and lonely and concentrate on the quiet, they see beautiful things such as flowers and butterflies! The illustrations give the reader a wealth of ways to know joy from feeling the morning sun tickling your toes, jumping on the bed in an urge of silliness and, yes, finding a good friend.

The illustration of the moment when the two boys finally find each other is full of lovely possibilities.

Ribbons in green, pink, yellow, and purple colors connect everything and everyone to this glorious feeling. The important message here is: when you share your joy there is more joy to share. The final illustrations urge readers to go ahead and share their joy. “Write it in a letter. Play it on a drum. Sing it to the sky.”

The Little Book of JOY is designed for children 3-7 years of age but, the whole family will enjoy the joy! (Crown Books for Young Readers/ imprint of Random House Children’s Books) 2022.

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the Activity Questions can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

  Activity Questions for The Little Book of JOY

Young children: Look closely at the final double spread illustration at the end of this book where the people and animals are all feeling joy. Then find the following: a cat, a shell, a drum, a flute, a dog, a butterfly, a pencil, an owl, a duck, a hijab, and drumsticks.

Older children: One boy in this story finds joy when the morning sun tickles his feet whereas the other boy finds joy when he does something silly such as jumping up and down on the bed. What makes you feel joy? Think about it. Then draw a picture of yourself feeling joy.

How are the two boys in this story different and how are they alike? Think about where they each live and how they each dress. Then, think about how they both find joy. What does each boy notice when he sits and allows himself to focus on the quiet?

Beautiful ribbons in colors of pink, orange, purple, green, and blue connect all the people in this book with joy. With the help of a parent collect pieces of colorful fabric to make a ribbon of joy. Be sure to wave it about.

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.