We had a special visitor today – Paul Reynolds, the author of the new picture book, Going Places. Reynolds wrote the book with Peter Reynolds, author of The Dot and illustrator of the very popular Judy Moody and Stink books. Their shared last names are no coincidence. Peter and Paul are brothers; in fact, they are identical twins. As Paul described their relationship, they have “twinergy!”
Going Places is about a school with a contest called….Going Places. At Oak Hill School, every student gets a kit and a set of instructions to make a go-kart. Most kids do exactly what I would have done as a kid – and what I would do today – follow the instructions and make sure it’s “right.” But in Reynolds-land, as you would expect from the the creator of The Dot and Ish, it’s the creative student who comes up with something different, who inspires the reader to see more possibilities.
Through their children’s books and their work at Fablevision, an educational company that designs websites and animated videos to inspire creativity and “out-of-the-box” thinking, Paul and Peter Reynolds are also making a statement about the risks of conformity. During his visit, Paul held up a blank book. Literally a plain white cover and lots of blank pages. He used it to emphasize that every day is a new page to fill and encouraged the kids to think about their own stories.
Personally, one of the things I appreciate about Going Places is that Rafael, the character who follows the instructions, is not presented as “wrong.” His contribution is valuable too. When he works with Maya, the “dreamer” who watches a bird for her inspiration, Rafael is inspired by her approach, but they are successful because of their collaboration. Going Places is a good book to read to kids, but I would also recommend it to teachers who are discouraged by all of the testing and ranking and standards. It’s a sweet and inspiring reminder that every kid has something to offer.