You Are Special by Max Lucado
Genre: Fantasy, Inspirational
Length: Short (31 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 4+
Rating: 5 stars
Review by: Xeranthemum
Every day the small wooden people called Wemmicks do the same thing: stick either gold stars or gray dots on one another. The pretty ones–those with smooth wood and fine paint–always get stars. The talented ones do, too. Others, though, who can do little or who have chipped paint, get ugly gray dots. Like Punchinello.
In this heartwarming children’s tale from the best-selling pen of author Max Lucado, Eli the woodcarver helps Punchinello understand how special he is–no matter what other Wemmicks may think. It’s a vital message for children everywhere: that regardless of how the world evaluates them, God cherishes each of them, just as they are.
This tale originally appeared within one of the chapters in the award-winning children’s bestseller Tell Me the Secrets.
This is a special book that speaks to the heart of parents when they read this to their kids. The illustrations are crisp, amazing and engaging.
I’ve read this story to my kids as they were growing up and it never ceased to amaze me that the message is just as relevant today as when the book was written. Kids, like adults, learn to judge others. This simply told yet beautiful tale helps teach kids that there is only one person whose opinion matters, and that’s our Maker. He loves us unconditionally, no matter who we are or what we look like, he loves us and that’s a pretty powerful lesson.
In this short story, the one who loves unconditionally is Punchinello’s maker, Eli. Punchinello is a little wooden man who is sad because others have made him feel like he has no sense of self-worth; he’s unhappy and very lonely. The story, combined with the illustrations, brings that sense of lonesomeness alive in a way kids can relate to. But soon, the loveable wooden Wemmick meets Lucia and something wonderful happens. The story captures a child’s uncertainty. wonder, and tentative hope as Punchinello realizes that things don’t have to stay the way they’ve been. He’s not what others say he is and that realization is grasped with tender optimism and anticipation once he meets Eli. Eli’s kindhearted, caring and gentle confidence embraces both Punchinello, reader and listener alike.
Believe it or not, I read this book every once in a while even though my own kids have outgrown the storybook style it’s told in. The message is something we all have a need to remember, from toddler to senior citizen – we are all loved for who we are, unconditionally and completely by the one who is always there for us – our Maker. Just like Punchinello, we need to visit with Him from time to time to be reminded of that.
This is a wonderful story to share with kids as they navigate becoming more self-aware as they embark on their careers as students, from Kindergarten to second grade. It’s a keeper.