The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

One of the best kids’ book about creativity that I’ve ever read…

At the end of June, I attended a technology and education conference in San Diego and had the great fortune to meet Peter H. Reynolds, a fantastic children’s author and illustrator, perhaps best known for his picture books The Dot and Ish, at the Upstart Crow Bookstore right next to my hotel. I detailed my family’s first exposure to Peter Reynolds in a post back in February about Plant a Kiss, a really warm, inventive picture book illustrated by Reynolds and authored by one of my daughter’s favorite writers, Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

In that review, I commented that:

Illustrator Peter Reynolds is also a pretty big deal in children’s lit – his picture book, The Dot, is supposed to be fantastic – but, I’d admit, he’s one of those children’s book creators whom we’ve somehow missed entirely. Plant a Kiss is actually the first Peter Reynolds book we’ve ever read (it won’t be the last)…

After reading Plant a Kiss, during our very next trip to our library, my daughter saw a copy of The Dot on the shelves and, recognizing the artist, asked if we could check it out. Three weeks later, when we had to return The Dot to the library, my daughter brought the book over to the children’s librarian and asked if they had any more books by Peter Reynolds. Coming from a five year old, that’s a fairly huge endorsement.

Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

The sequel ain’t half-bad either…

Reynolds is a bit of a renaissance man. Aside from writing and illustrating his own children’s books – titles like The Dot, Ish, So Few of Me, and The North Star – he’s also illustrated the Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald, Someday by Alison McGhee, and a whole host of other titles by authors like Rosenthal, Gerda Weissman Klein, Bob Raczka, Eleanor Estes, and Judy Blume, among others. As if that’s not enough, he’s also the co-founder of FableVision, Inc., a “turn-key educational media developer and publisher committed to creating positive programming and products that help all learners navigate their full potential.” (I’m not entirely sure what that means, but it sounds fascinating.)

There are many reasons why I think my daughter really liked The Dot. It’s a wonderfully illustrated story. It has a very relatable protagonist – a young girl named Vashti, who is convinced that she simply CAN’T draw. And it has a very strong message at its core about creativity, confidence, and using art as a means to express one’s self.

Personally, one of the major reasons why I liked The Dot so much was because it was came along at the perfect time in my daughter’s life. My daughter just graduated from kindergarten back in June and she was one of the younger students in her class. (Just FYI, new parents – the debate surrounding whether you should send children with late-in-the-year birthdays straight to kindergarten or to a “Young Fives” program first is EASILY the most contentious parenting issue I’ve ever encountered. Certain parents go NUTS when the topic is brought up. I understand about being defensive about choices you’ve made for your family, but, jeez…)

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

Reynolds is a very cool guy in person and my daughter LOVES this inscription.

Because my daughter was almost a year and a half younger than some of her classmates, there were some developmental differences we noticed between her and some of the older students in her class. Yes, my daughter could read them all under the table, was great with numbers, and has memorized Batman’s almost entire rogue’s gallery (reminder: nerd dad), but, in terms of motor skills, my kid was undeniably on the younger side, particularly when it came to handwriting and coloring in the lines.

And, because such things are inevitable, one of her classmates picked up on this and began to tease her. He laughed at her pictures, he called her a “scribble-scrabbler”, and he called her a baby. The little jerk even picked up a term used by their teacher and weirdly chided my daughter for “not producing quality work.” (I won’t even tell you the names I told my daughter to call him back in return. Honestly. I really can’t. Whenever I tell people, I never come out looking good.) [read the rest of the post…]