Titles: You Are Special and You Are Mine
Author: Max Lucado
Illustrator: Sergio Martinez
Target Audience: Young children (although we all need a reminder sometimes)
Reading Level: Can be read independently at approximately a 5th grade reading level, but is more of a read-aloud book, for example with kindergartners. (Reading level is slightly elevated based on the formula I use due to names of characters)
Summary: The Wemmicks are wooden people. They are each different, but each was carved by Eli, the woodcarver who lives up the hill from the Wemmick village. Punchinello is the main character in the Wemmick books, and he learns a valuable lesson in each book.
In You Are Special, the Wemmicks give each other stickers--gray dots for "bad" Wemmicks and gold stars for "good" Wemmicks. The other Wemmicks give Punchinello gray dots for falling while trying to do tricks, for scratched paint, and eventually just for having so many gray dots. Punchinello begins to believe that he is not a good Wemmick. Then Punchinello meets Lucia, who has no stickers. When other Wemmicks try to give her a star or a dot, it falls to the ground. At Lucia's suggestion, Punchinello visits Eli, where he learns that Lucia's stickers don't stick because she has decided that Eli's opinion is more important than the opinion of the other Wemmicks. As Punchinello leaves Eli with an agreement to come back each day, he begins to believe Eli's promise that he is special because Eli made him and one of his gray dot stickers falls off.
In You Are Mine, Punchinello gets caught up in the latest Wemmick craze--buying boxes and balls. He even works extra hours and sells all of his belongings trying to have the most. When someone decides that stacking the boxes and balls the highest will determine which Wemmick is best, all the Wemmicks start heading up the hill near the village. But along the way, Punchinello wanders off the path since he can't see because of all his boxes and balls. He doesn't realize he's off the path until he trips in the doorway to Eli's house. In the conversation that follows, Punchinello learns that his boxes and balls have cost him quite a bit--even more than his bed, home, and books, they have also cost him happiness, friends, and his trust in Eli to make him happy.
Review: I love the books about the Wemmicks. The stories are told in a simple, straightforward manner and the illustrations are also beautiful. You can see the Wemmicks' wooden joints, but also the happiness and sadness in their faces. The books teach important Biblical truths--you are special because of Who made you, not because of what you look like, what you have, or what you can do. God's opinion of you should be more important than the opinions of other people. And, other people's opinion will affect your happiness only if you let them.
5 stars--Gourmet meal.
Great book. Nothing wrong whatsoever. It's pretty close to, "I don't think I could ever read anything better. " I think everyone should read this book. It is likely that very few books will get this rating.