A Dash of Heartache this Perfect Picture Book Friday

For my memory that ties into today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review, you’ll be traveling back with me five years to an art store in an unnamed town, in a state that shall remain nameless to conceal the identity of my irksome shopping companion.

But first… a necessary fact for the story: I have loved to create art since I could hold a paintbrush.

I credit much of my passion for art to my mom who was a scientific illustrator for the Field Museum in Chicago. The moment I showed an interest in drawing, Mom taught me how to hold a pencil, how to angle it to thicken the lines, how to alter my pressure to change the intensity. I branched out from painting and drawing to sculpting and printmaking and photography. I have a small room set aside just for art that is draped and stuffed with folded fabrics, pans of paint, ceramic jars of brushes, stacks of art books, and one comfy chair by the window for dreaming.

Let’s return to the art store in that unnamed town, in a state that shall remain nameless…

While out on a walk, I noticed a quaint art store. The colorful window display seemed to whisper, “Leslieeeeeeeee, come inside. We have many, pretty art supplies…” I crossed the street with my disinterested companion and stepped inside the magical (to me) store. Sheets of marbled papers lay lose upon a table, showing off their colors and patterns like the fanned tail of a peacock. Paintbrushes and pads of watercolor paper full of promise beckoned to me. I didn’t have the money for much, but I did have enough to bring home a few irresistible treasures. I carried my items toward the cash register and dreamed about the next piece of art I would create. Soon, my shopping companion came over, looked at the items I held, and said in a cold tone…

“What do you need that stuff for?”

I explained about the imaginative art I hoped to create and received this comment…

“What are you going to do with it when you’re done? It’ll just clutter up your place.”

I looked at the items I had treasured a moment earlier. Suddenly, they no longer brought me happiness. If I bought them, each time I held them, they would remind me of this moment. I put back the watercolor block, the paintbrush with bunny-soft bristles, and the small spool of blue, silk ribbon, and left the store. When my companion expressed great pleasure that I hadn’t wasted my money. Something broke inside of me.

A long time passed before I picked up my favorite paintbrush again. That day I experienced a jolt of pure joy and decided no one would ever steal happiness from me again.

Time for the picture book review I promised you.

Title – The Room of Wonders

Written and illustrated by – Sergio Ruzzier

Published by – Francis Foster Books – Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York 2006

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics/Theme –  collections, confidence, and inner happiness.

Opening – Pius Pelosi was a packrat, and he collected things. On long walks through the forest, he found twisted roots, interesting twigs, leaves, feathers, and sometimes a skin left behind by a snake.

Amazon Review – Pius Pelosi, a young pack rat, is a born collector who fills a
room with his marvelous findings, attracting curious visitors. His very favorite item, a plain gray pebble, is given a place of honor, which baffles everyone. They all ask why he would keep such an ordinary stone. Bowing to public opinion, Pius gets rid of it, but in doing so, he discovers he’s lost much more than just the pebble.

Why do I like this book? At the moment when Pius, the main character, hears the harsh words against his most prized treasure and throws out his entire collection, no one cheered louder during the story’s applause-worthy climax than me. I hope that children, listening to this story, will learn the value of standing up for what they love, believe in, or treasure. Hopefully, they will never allow the negative opinions of others to overshadow their precious feelings.

Learn about Sergio Ruzzier HERE.

I’m adding something new to my blog this Monday. I hope you’ll follow along to find out what it is. 

Take care.

12 thoughts on “A Dash of Heartache this Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Leslie, so sorry for your experience. I have often wondered where my Grandmother would have taken her art, if she’d been encouraged. I’m glad you got to hold your special paintbrush again. I’ll have to track down this one. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Maria, I have often thought about that visit to the art store and the words spoken without thought to how they would make me feel. So often, I wanted to say something, but the man who said those careless words has since passed away. If anything good came from that day, it was a powerful reminder that thoughtless words can kill while even the smallest seed of encouragement can give life.
      On a side note, I enjoyed our long talk today.


  2. I wonder why people don’t realize how their negative words can affect others. I was shopping for clothes with a girlfriend. At the time I sewed a lot of my own clothing and enjoyed the creativity of designing things just for me. We had been trying things on and I slipped my top (one I had made) on to go out and bring more things into the fitting room. My friend said, “Don’t buy that. It doesn’t look good on you.” I was crushed. I’ve seen parents do this to children too so I’m pleased to see a book that encourages children to stand up for what they love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Darlene, I’m so sorry your friend made that comment about the top you had made. I know the sting that comes from hurtful words and never want to make anyone feel that pain. One lesson my mother drove home when I was a child was to think before I speak. To borrow from your words… people need to “realize how their negative words can affect others.” I don’t know if you still design and sew clothes for yourself, but if this creative outlet brings you joy, never let anyone take it from you. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I hope i have never said anything that had a negative impact on anyone, but I’m not perfect. My dad always told us to think before we opened our mouths. I quite sewing a few years ago when I started writing books. Only so much time. I love how you tie in a life-experience with the topic of the book you review. Have a great weekend. xo

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful story that encourages kids to stand up for what they are passionate about. It’s sad that this happens so frequently, and kids cave because they want to be cool. Parents do the same thing to squash interests and dreams — I remember this well with my parents putting down my theatrical and journalistic interests. But, I didn’t listen. When I was told, “you can’t do that,” I always rebelled and said, “watch me.” So it worked the opposite for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my gosh, Patricia. I LOVE your “watch me” response. It’s empowering. I also wish parents wouldn’t dampen their children’s dreams. Unfortunately in my case, my mom would only help with my college tuition if I pursued the kind of career she approved of. Trust me when I say there was tension between us. Here’s to never letting anyone dampen our dreams. Hugs.


  4. Wonderful story & I’m glad that you picked up your paintbrush! There are people who till this day don’t like my writing style & are like you write dark stuff none would publish that, what would you do with your writings sid. But I still write the way my heart desires… Perhaps when it comes to art, writing or any creative work for that matter, then one shouldn’t look for a reason for what it may yield because it certainly results in generating emotional happiness that in itself is priceless. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m glad you enjoyed reading my post. As I was browsing my book collection to find one to share, The Room of Wonders called out to me. Sadly, the memory I shared is one of many moments in my life when someone thought it was okay to turn the light off on my dreams. I’m glad I picked up my paintbrush, too. And Sid, keep writing from your heart. Always.


  6. Oh, Leslie, I hope you put some distance between yourself and that negative person! Life is too short for people who live to kill others’ joy.

    I stumbled across this book awhile ago at the library. Loved it, as I do much of Ruzzier’s work. It’s definitely a a keeper. Hope you’re having a great weekend!


  7. Before I was able to say anything, the man in my story passed away. Although it’s too late to say anything, and I doubt my feelings would have mattered to him, I’m glad I returned to creating art again.

    I also love this book. Ruzzier has a way, both through his writing and his illustrations, of connecting the reader to the main character’s feelings.

    Enjoy the weekend, Jilanne.


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