Ten Beautiful Things by Molly Griffin, Maribel Lechuga

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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 dilapitated 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.

♦ 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.
-- Publishers Weekly, 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.
-- Booklist, starred review


Molly Beth Griffin is a graduate of Hamline University's MFA program in writing for children and young adults and a writing teacher at the Loft Literary Center in the Twin Cities. She is the author of Loon Baby and Silhouette of a Sparrow.

Maribel Lechuga is the illustrator of Seaside Stroll. She has always felt an attraction to drawing and art, and she was fascinated by cartoons of the 1990s. She studied art at the prestigious Escuela de Arte 10 (Artediez) in Madrid. www.maribellechuga.com

Target Age: 5-8

Charlesbridge Publishing

Pub Date: January 12, 2021

0.6" H x 8.7" L x 11.2" W 

32 pages