Reviewed by Nicole Sorkin
“The Beginning,” is how Lisa McDonald ends her book, a technique that completely captured my thoughts by surprise and reverberated the lessons of her story in my mind. Little Boy Gan from Passion-Filled Everland is a creative collaboration of indelible images along with a timeless storyline resulting in a delightful literary asset to any personal collection or library.
Perfect for bedtime reading to a child, or for anyone to just to take a few moments throughout one’s day, McDonald draws upon the ageless power of gratitude to amplify the awareness of the moment and to accent the littlest things in life which she points out have the most enjoyment.
Within the enchanted forest of Everland is a cast including a talking willow tree, caterpillar, deer, frog, goose, turtle and squirrel all asking Gan the same question, “What makes you glow with happiness?” Being attracted to Gan’s glory of being, the characters each learn a lesson stemming from Gan’s peace, love and gratitude. Gan’s bounce in his walk is contributed to his happy thoughts; his kind words stem from being comfortable within his own skin; his humble quietness allows him to listen to the universe. These are all very important Zen techniques of self-actualization and by reading this book allows children to develop these skills by observing the lessons Gan tells his fanciful friends.
One cannot help but slow down and think to themselves how peaceful Everland is, as the images create an angelic view of the characters’ interaction. The illustrative points-of-view whimsically float around in perspective and zoom in close using very creative artistry. Gan is humble and clear with his answers to the questions of why he is so content. Those answers are found in everybody; just that in Gan’s case he understands the “why” at such a young age which shows other youngsters that wisdom at any age is achievable if given time for quiet meditation. One learns to appreciate the blessings the “Here and now” creates.
This book is one from a series of other children’s books written by Lisa McDonald. In Little Boy Gan she created a piece that stands on its own merits for completeness, yet fits into her messaging from other works like a jig-saw puzzle for young minds to make sense of lessons of life. It is a spiritual book although not mentioning God, a philosophical book without quoting Eastern prophets, and an imaging classic in soft yet detailed illustrations.
In the competitive market of children’s book, Lisa McDonald has established herself as a visionary author capable of tying illustrations to terse yet powerful messaging, poetically using phrases and dialog to convey lessons of building self-confidence and wisdom in young children.
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