five fizzing with wonder!

To wonder why…or how…or if. To stand in wonder; amazement. Making time for a sense of wonder is monumentally important for our kids, and ourselves. These books can help get you there:

the wonder garden cover imageThe Wonder Garden, written by Jenny Broom, illustrated by Kristjana S. Williams
published in 2015 by Wide Eyed Editions

The stunning illustrations in this book beckon us to wander through the Wonder Garden…

Step through the elegant, golden tracery of a tantalizing gateway. Find yourself transported to “five extraordinary habitats where you will meet real-life animals in fantastical environments that are inspired by nature.”

The Wonder Garden illustration Lucy Letherland

The dense Amazon Rain Forest, brilliantly-colored Great Barrier Reef, prickly Chihuahuan Desert, shadowy Black Forest, and craggy Himalayan Mountains — these are our destinations. Introduce yourself to each new place with Broom’s brief, vivid description of the habitat and its conditions that uniquely challenge flora and fauna. Then zoom in to focus on a few inhabitants.

The Wonder Garden interior2 Broom and Williams

What can I say to adequately convey the striking beauty of these illustrations. Williams’ black line yields a printmaking quality, while the bisques, slates, and mosses connect us to the natural world. Then these screaming-flamingo, electric-cherry blasts — colors we’d expect in a bowlful of Skittles — zing in with an eye-popping flourish! Glory!

the wonder garden illustration detail kristjana williams

In the introduction to this book, Jenny Broom observes that, “For many centuries, we humans lived on Earth in coexistence with nature, but today, more and more of us live a life apart, with the Wonder Garden on our doorstep left forgotten.” What an apt depiction of the lack in so many of our lives and what a sweet allurement to wander and wonder more. Ages 4 and up, up, up.

The Wonder cover imageThe Wonder, written and illustrated by Faye Hanson
published in 2015 by Templar Books, an imprint of Candlewick Press

The little boy in this book has a head “filled with wonder.”

Lucky fellow. His rich thoughts fill his mind with questions all the day long, wondering where that bird is flying to, or what a zippy sign might taste like.

The Wonder interior Faye Hanson

Not so lucky, though, because the adults in his world get irritated at his daydreaming ways. Scoldings and scowlings nip at him like bad-tempered dogs. Until he gets to art class. And there, the loveliest of words meet his ears: “Just use your imagination.”

The Wonder illustration Faye Hanson

What follows are pages of fantastical visions, unleashed in mind-blowing splendor, that have been racketing about in his head. Finally, his gift of imagination earns praise, and we get a little peek of what lies in his future.

A colorful, effervescent tribute to the creative spirit. Ages 4 and up.

Wild Ideas cover imageWild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking, by Elin Kelsey, with artwork by Soyeon Kim
published in 2015 by Owlkids Books

Have you ever watched a squirrel figure out how to nab the seeds in a bird feeder? We used to watch as they leapt to our roof, then hung upside down by their toenails to raid our suet feeder! When they stole the whole thing one time too many, we had to think of a new way to foil their tactics.

Wild Ideas interior1 kelsey and kim

In this unusual book, Elin Kelsey invites us to take inspiration from the many ways animals work at solving problems. Do you know what animal folds leaves into little spoons to get a cool drink of water? Or what kind of insect is guided by the Milky Way?

What kinds of creative problem-solving might be sparked in us by observing the astonishing solutions worked out in the animal kingdom? Watching, wondering, and considering some more.

Wild Ideas interior2 Kelsey and Kim

Colorful, imaginative diorama illustrations really add to the sense of new angles on thinking here. Ages 3 and up.

Atlas of Adventures cover imageAtlas of Adventures, written by Rachel Williams, illustrated by Lucy Letherland
published in 2015 by Wide Eyed Editions

In this gorgeous atlas, the focus is not on cities or borders, isthmuses or coastlines. It’s all about adventure! Travel around the world and discover boatloads of activities and sights to relish in the wide world.

Atlas of Adventures interior2 Letherland and Williams

Two pages with attractive maps introduce each continent. Following that are pages focusing on one location — Finnish Lapland, a steamboat on the Mississippi River, a Senegalese football match, the Elephant Conservation Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It’s a tantalizing variety of thirty destinations. 

Atlas of Adventures interior3 letherland and williams

Rachel Williams’ immensely-pleasing graphic design on these pages pulls us in like a candy store window, while dozens of captions fill in some details. This is the kind of book that makes the world of differences feel splendid, makes us want to cross borders and learn how others live, experience the world in new ways. As a bonus, there are pages of spot-art images readers can search for in the book.

Atlas of Adventure letherland and williams interior1

An absolutely delightful volume to pore over together, bring along on a car ride, or gift to a child in the hospital. Ages 5 and up, up, up.

you choose cover imageYou Choose, words by Pippa Goodhart, pictures by Nick Sharratt
published in Great Britain in 2003; first hardcover American edition 2014 by Kane Miller/EDC

A giant gumball machine has nothing on the brilliant colors and possibilities crammed between these two covers!

Like a catalog of wishes, these pages invite kids to ponder and choose:

Where would you like to go?
You Choose interior3 Sharratt and Goodhart

Who would you like for family and friends?

You Choose Sharratt and Goodhart interior1

What kind of home would you choose?

You Choose interior2 Sharratt and Goodhart

So much to wonder about. Talk about. Imagine.

Brilliant choice to take along on a babysitting gig, a long airplane ride, or just to pull out on a rainy day. The UK’s Nick Sharratt has lots of other peppy titles, some of which are trickling over to our side of the pond, so look for his bold blasts of fun for preschoolers. Ages 2 and up.