Friday, June 10, 2016

Ideas (and Stories) Are All Around

Title of Picture Book: Ideas Are All Around
Author & Illustrator: Philip C. Stead
Original Publisher & Date: Roaring Brook Press, 2016   
Summary: Ideas Are All Around is quite different; it seems to be autobiographical and extemporaneous but that is unlikely because it is so clever. Like the variety of experiences the author evokes, the illustrations are multi-media including images of photographs, detailed water colors, and stamped impressions. 

The author/illustrator tells of a day in which he needs to write a story, but he is out of ideas.
His dog Wednesday, who doesn’t like for him to write stories, wants to go for a walk. Author and dog go for a walk amidst all sorts of idea and story opportunities, including a turtle, Frank, who ignores the author, and a more human neighbor friend. The story material is never acknowledged as such so the reader has to do some thinking. What ideas are all around and how might they become stories?
Stead’s clever art adds even more to the mix so that it becomes clear that ideas for stories are all around if we are attentive, open to their possibilities, and willing to step into those opportunities.
Hanna’s Comments: Although young children will enjoy this book, for PBT’s purposes this book is best for older elementary, teen, or adult audiences.
The free-flowing plot and the abstract ideas would be hard to pin down and connect with theology for young children. However, there is much here for more mature thinkers. 
While reading this book, I thought of how Jesus’ travels must have seemed something like this author’s, unhurried and companionable, open to where the Holy Spirit would have him go, and attentive to possibilities. For Jesus, these opportunities were for ministry, teaching, and God’s glorification. 
If only we could be so open in our own daily routines! Jesus’ healing of the Bent-Over Woman at the Temple seems to be one scriptural example. It was risky, interacting with a woman and healing on the Sabbath, but the woman’s burden moved Jesus so he acted. Thanks to Jesus’ godly idea, we have a godly story.

Philip C. Stead is one of my favorite picture book authors. Often times he is partnered with his illustrator wife, Erin E. Stead. Two of my favorite PBT books are their creations: 
A Sick Day for Amos McGee, originally featured here at PBT on 4/28/14 and in an upcoming entry in my new PBT redux series. Look for that later this summer. I recently did a successful adult Sunday School lesson based on it, very easy and meaningful. If you’re interested in hearing more about that lesson, ask via a comment or email me.  
Also this couple is responsible for Bear Has a Story to Tell which is a subtle but powerful story of meeting others’ needs rather than demanding to be heard. I featured that gem on 6/22/14.                     
Idea(s) for Application: Offer this book to a client in spiritual direction or an adult small group when beginning to discuss concepts of being open to the Holy Spirit and/or processes of discernment.
Scripture Connections: Jesus heals the Bent-Over Woman (Luke 13:10-17)
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up (see my comments above)
Formats other than Book: None at present