Everyone has a special talent! Help kids weather the waiting of finding their talent with these 3 beautiful and fun picture books!
A Chip Off the Old Block by Jodi Jensen Shaffer, illustrations by Daniel Miyares (Nancy Paulsen Books)
Rocky comes from a large and renowned family full of rock stars. He may be just a chip off the old block, but he knows he can make a big difference. He just has to find his special talent. After traveling the United States and failing to fit in with several famous family members, he finally finds his own monumental place in the world.
Rocky’s aspiration to join large rock formations like the Wave and the Tower provide an apt metaphor for a small child with big dreams of emulating their heroes. Although his dreams may seem out of reach, he is persistent and with each turn of events continues to believe that he matters. And when the right circumstances present themselves, he recognizes his own special talent.
The beautiful balance of self-initiative while taking life in stride, makes the book a poignant read. All the while, an adventurous storyline, gorgeous illustrations and clever use of language keep it lighthearted, engaging and fun. And just to add an extra dose of wonderful, the last spread provides information about the locations and make-up of the famous rock formations featured. Overall, it’s a delightful book with a great life-lesson that could also be incorporated into lesson plans about geology, creative writing (illustrating metaphor, idioms, and puns), and United States geography.
Antoinette by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrations by Christian Robinson (Simon and Schuster)
Readers of the delightful Gaston will remember that Antoinette is his poodle, switched-at-birth counterpart. And her book is just as wonderful as the first!
All of the bulldog family pups have discovered their outstanding, superb and impressive talents except for Antoinette. With the wisdom and enduring faith of a parent, Mrs. Bulldog assures Antoinette that she will find her own special talent in time. And when her friend Ooh-La-La is in need of rescue, it is Antoinette’s talent for extraordinary bravery that saves the day.
Without venerating one talent over another, Antoinette illustrates that every individual has a useful talent. But unlike strength or speed, bravery is a talent that often requires unusual or unexpected circumstances in order to manifest. Like many talents, it’s not recognized until it is needed, which makes a great argument for trying many different things in life. You never know what your talent might be! Add this message to the stunning art of Christian Robinson and you have another superb book from the Gaston and Friends series.
The Secrets of Ninja School by Deb Pilutti (Henry Holt)
There’s a special school where kids go to learn ninja skills (stealth, patience, and bravery) and discover their own special talents. Ruby is enthusiastic about attending, but becomes discouraged when the other children master their ninja skills much more quickly. It’s not until a pandemic of homesickness has all of the students in tears that Ruby’s talents for compassion, creativity, and friendship become apparent. And as she puts her talents into action creating stuffed dragon friends and telling adventure stories to comfort her friends, it becomes evident that she, too, has learned the skills of a ninja.
It’s the relatable nature of Ruby and her endearingly illustrated story that makes The Secrets of Ninja School so fantastic. Like Ruby, most people feel discouraged when peers seem to master things more easily. And in the face of others’ achievements, most of us have trouble seeing our own path in the shadow of comparison. But Ruby’s story teaches that if we persevere, even when we’re afraid of failure, then we can each discover our own special talents.
BONUS: This wonderful book comes with a craft! The back pages are dedicated to patterns and instructions for making your very own felt dragon, just like Ruby’s. There are also alternate instructions for younger readers to make a paper dragon. Both versions are absolutely adorable, and our special dragon friends like to keep each other company—just like Ruby’s dragons and her friends in the book!