This is a multigenerational book that promotes discussion of self-image topics around beauty and how society and advertising influences us. The story is about a little girl, Maggie, questioning her grandmother whether old things can be beautiful. Maggie sees advertisements for taking the gray out of the hair and for wrinkle creams. The ads say it will make you look young and beautiful. They talk about things that are beautiful and then things that are old and beautiful, like the patch work quilt on her lap. Maggie comes to her own conclusion on beauty and age. The intent of the story is to question whether only young and youth are beautiful. There are questions at the end that the adult can discuss with the child to encourage thinking and increase their understanding.
Sonja Lange Wendt is an award-winning author of the Cultivating Compassion in Children books series. Her books are intergenerational and address important and sometimes difficult topics with children on inclusion, acceptance, disabilities, bullying and aging. Serina and Seymour Seed kick off and end each story. Seymour and Serina are the seeds of compassion children have, but sometimes they need planting and nurturing to cultivate the best in them. Through increasing awareness, understanding and discussion, these books teach that using compassion in different situations shows kindness in the greatest way in this sometimes difficult to navigate world.
Sonja uses a variety of setting and characters from grandparents, little girl, little boy, and bugs to engage children in the stories. The settings all include nature and the outdoors. Each story ends with thought provoking questions to be asked by the adult and discussed with the child.
These books are generally fitting for children ages 4-8 but as C.S. Lewis states, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” Her books are brilliantly illustrated with vivid colors and scenery.
I couple years ago I was told I needed wrinkle cream to look beautiful, or at least, not ugly. It was an ad that popped in on my computer about a story of a little boy who had two grandmas. He called one his ugly grandma and the other his beautiful grandma. I had to read it again. Who would label their grandmas like that? What kind of advertiser would want to promote their product in that way! Then I wondered why this ad popped up in my feed. Is there a message for me here that I need that wrinkle cream?
There was one good thing that came out of that ad for wrinkle remover cream that popped up under my computer feed. No, I didn’t buy the cream and am now wrinkle free. But it did inspire me to write this children’s book, Can Old Be Beautiful, and create the series, Cultivating Compassion in Children. This book is a great book for a child to give and read to a grandmother for Mother’s Day!
Can Old Be Beautiful? (Cultivating Compassion in Children)