The OFFICIALunOFFICIAL English Bulldog Mascot

The Most Beautiful Place In The World

In Animals and Pets, Books, Children's Literacy, English bulldogs, K-12 Education, WORD Book of the WEEK, Writers and Writing on October 13, 2009 at 1:39 PM

Duke Ellington and Count Basie– Two musicians who knew how to make music speak volumes with just a few choice notes. Not like me. I am neither succinct nor economical with words, but I appreciate those who are. That’s why my favorite book is a little 58 page trade gem called The Most Beautiful Place in the World by Ann Cameron. I love, love, love, this story and for you moms and dads out there, it’s a must-have addition to your read-aloud library. This is a book the whole family will cherish and enjoy for years and years to come.

It’s not a recent best seller. It’s just one of those reads you find yourself revisiting time and time again. The beauty lies in the quiet yet economical way the story unfolds, like a signature Count Basie arrangement– big flourishes punctuated by a series of select notes played with the Count’s pointer finger on the piano at the end. You will experience all the notes in The Most Beautiful Place in the World.

Juan lives in an impoverished city in Guatemala, ironically surrounded by beauty, flora and fauna. At seven, he’s been abandoned by his father, and his teenaged mother selfishly chooses life with Mr. Better-Than-Nothing over parenting and providing for her son, leaving Juan with her own mother, a world weary woman wholly preoccupied with keeping food on the table and a roof over hers, Juan’s, and all the others of her children and grandchildren’s heads.

Grandma’s a hardworking woman. She gets up early each day to make and sell arroz con leche, a sweet rice pudding concoction served like a thick hot shake, while Juan obediently toils alongside her, silently envying the fresh-faced, neatly dressed boys and girls he observes daily walking past his rickety shoe-shine stand on their way to school.

With no role models, radio or TV to plant the seed of desire to read and write, Juan intuitively dreams of going to school. He keeps his covetous desire to himself and keeps hope alive, teaching himself how to read.

Finally, Juan is compelled to reveal his secret desire to his grandmother and her response to the revelation is both surprising and heartwarming. You don’t always have to leave home, have a load of cash or even escape poverty to find yourself in the most beautiful place in the world.

Without any judgmental moralization or manipulative sentimentality, The Most Beautiful Place in the World is a quiet celebration of acceptance of the present while cultivating a vision for opportunity in the future. It also showcases the respect, love and loyalty Juan maintains for his grandmother and her dignified encouragement and support of his modest ambition to go to school.

I’d love to hear you read The Most Beautiful Place In The World.

WORD dog

“And there came to be evening and there came to be morning”

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