All of the sudden Kobi Yamada is everywhere. Fleet’s bookcase, Vail Mountain School, and featured at our local bookstore. Yamada is a New York Times best-selling author several times over but, for some reason, it’s hard to find detailed information about him. Here’s the gist:
Yamada is the president/CEO of Compendium – an inspiring gift and publishing company – and is also a best-selling author of many award-winning picture books. His titles have been translated into over 30 languages and his company has collaborated with some of the most recognizable brands in the world.
I wish I knew more about how he got into the writing business and where all this inspiration comes from. Also, he uses a variety of illustrators and I’d like to know more about how he makes those choices. Either way, I’m a big fan of his books and so is Fleet. In fact, I read What Do You Do With An Idea? to his preschool class last month and both his classmates and teachers loved it. I’ve also gifted the book to other friends.
Below are the Yamada titles Fleet and I have read so far and a short review of each:
What Do You Do With An Idea? (Illustrated by Mae Besom)
It all started with a friend giving Fleet a copy of What Do You Do With An Idea? as a gift. With illustrations as beautiful as the words, the book creatively tells the story of a little boy coming up with an idea and, although at first he’s unsure of what to do with it, he learns to ignore those who doubt him and pursue it. It’s interesting that the idea is illustrated as an egg wearing a crown but it works. And the animal friends that seamlessly join the journey are adorable. The overall message of this book is fantastic because it teaches the reader to trust their gut and be brave – no matter what anyone else says.
Finding Muchness (Illustrated by Charles Santoso)
Although illustrated by a different artist, this book’s main character (a cute little fuzzy duck) is just as sweet and hopeful as the young boy in Idea. The book encourages the reader to live life completely – and to be brave and excited about the ups and down one inevitably encounters. Muchness is for both children and adults as it points out the many important reasons why living a full life is important. These simple reminders carry big meanings about loving ourselves and others, the value of effort, and remembering to play and dream.
What Do You Do With A Chance? (Illustrated by Mae Besom)
Similar to the boy in Idea, the boy in this book is given a chance but initially isn’t sure what to do with it. He’s also very concerned about what other people will think. But after the first chance appears, and he misses it, he realizes that he wants another one and does everything he can to get it. Again, the theme of bravery beautifully prevails and his animal friends are right beside him. He learns that his excitement and determination are bigger than his fear of the unknown and, when he gets another chance, he takes it.
Trying (Illustrated by Elise Hurst)
Although this book is arguably more for adults than kids, the message is universal: it’s ok to be a beginner. So often people don’t try something new because they are afraid to fail and Trying demonstrates that even if the first attempt doesn’t go as planned, trying again is the only way to improve. Additionally, the reader learns (or is reminded) that trying leads to learning which leads to growth (and usually success to some degree) and this book does an excellent job of showing the progression.
So while all of these titles are considered children’s books, the cleverness of Yamada is that adults can learn a lot from them as well. Each story is well-written, creative, and features stunning illustrations. Additionally, these books are memorable for different reasons and provide inspiring messages that benefit anyone who reads them.