What Do You Do With an Idea?
Written by Kobi Yamada
Illustrated by Mae Besom
Category: Picture Book
I think it was about five in the evening on December 31st when it occurred to me that I should have compiled some sort of list about the best children’s books of 2014. I was applying some mascara and looking for something, anything, sequined to wear to a New Year’s gathering (because if sequins aren’t for New Year’s I’m not sure what they are for at all) and decided I would have to let that particular thought go. There’s always 2015 and no dearth of book lists on the internet. But, even though it’s January and I won’t be writing such a list for last year, I would be completely remiss if I did not share my favorite children’s book I read last year, What Do You Do With an Idea?
What Do You Do With an Idea? tells the story of a young boy and the journey he takes when he decides to nurture an idea. It is also the story of all of the ideas that have ever been, and I dare any dreamer to read this book without welling up or fist pumping the air or whatever your particular emotional response to the truth might be. It is written by Kobi Yamada, a professional idea generator and president of Compendium, a company that encourages inspired living. Mae Besom provides the enchanting illustrations, which effectively increase in color and vibrancy as the boy overcomes his insecurities and doubts and begins to nourish his idea.
Told through the voice of a child, the book is a vulnerable and honest exploration of the emotions that can surround a new idea, from internal questions (“it seemed kind of strange and fragile”) to worry about its reception (“What would people say about my idea?”) to attempts at hiding the idea (“I hid it away and didn’t talk about it. I tried to act like everything was the same as it was before my idea showed up.”) and to the eventual courageous decision to care for it and what that choice can bring.
If this books feels like honey for the soul of an adult reader, just imagine the impact it could have on a child, full of ideas and wonder. It’s the kind of book that should be read again and again throughout childhood and straight on into adulthood, until it begins to imprint itself on the reader’s heart.
I don’t want to say too much more about this beautiful book, because I sincerely want you to read it yourself. Actually, I want you to buy a few copies to tuck away as gifts for people in your life who are working on an ideas of their own and an extra copy for yourself that you keep close at hand to read anytime you doubt the potential of your own ideas. Because the truth is, everything starts as an idea. Everything.