What Do You Do With an Idea? What Do You Do With a Problem?

How do you explain an abstract concept to children? Kid lit is filled with depictions of good manners, sharing, and other physical acts that lend themselves well to visual representation, but until now I haven't read a book that tackles the very notion of idea itself. The fact that What Do You Do With an Idea? does it so effortlessly is even more impressive.

We're given the story of a young child (interestingly, you can't tell if they are male or female, and a case could be made for either) who one day has an idea. The idea visually takes the form of a small golden egg, which is the beginning of a great, easy to understand metaphor. We follow the child as they try to ignore the idea, then are afraid of the idea, and eventually embrace the idea, all while this visual metaphor expertly tells the story. I could say more, but it's such a treat to experience the first time that I suggest finding a copy and discovering it for yourself.

The companion book What Do You Do With a Problem? follows a similar structure, in which a child discovers they have a problem, tries to ignore it, and has to confront it, this time learning the value of overcoming our problems. A new, clear visual metaphor again tells the story, but this time the story delves a bit more into what a problem actually is. Given that people tend to fear problems a bit more than they fear ideas, Problem is a bit darker than Idea, which is good for keeping it from being repetitive.

Together, the What Do You Do books are truly great picture books that explore in an easy, kid-friendly tone how you can nourish ideas, and what you can learn from problems. The artwork is among the coolest I've seen in any picture book, with Problem featuring the more detailed drawings, added colors, and an even more expressive visual storytelling element. Artist Mae Besom has created a unique look that feels almost like it was scrawled on ancient parchment and passed down through the ages. It is a suggested fantasy world that feels entirely its own, yet comfortably familiar. That could be the perfect explanation for the books themselves; completely new, yet utterly classic.

What Do You Do With an Idea?

by Kobi Yamada & Mae Besom

Compendium Inc

2014, 36 pages, 9.0 x 0.8 x 10.8 inches, Hardcover

$14 Buy on Amazon

What Do You Do With a Problem?

by Kobi Yamada & Mae Besom

Compendium Inc

2016, 36 pages, 8.9 x 0.6 x 10.6 inches, Hardcover

$11 Buy on Amazon