Genre: Drama / Self-Esteem / Toys / Surrealism
Year Published: 1997
Year Read: 2015
Now, I will admit that when I saw little wooden puppets on the cover of this book, I was truly intrigued, since I enjoy reading books that deal with puppets in general (whether the puppets are cute or horrifying). “You Are Special” is a truly unique children’s book written by Max Lucado along with illustrations by Sergio Martinez that many children and adults will enjoy for the heartwarming message about being yourself.
Once upon a time, there was a little village where wooden people called the Wemmicks lived at and they were all created by a wood worker named Eli. One of the main activities that the Wemmicks participated in was putting on golden stars and gray dots on each other. The gold stars would represent how much talent that person would have, such as having smooth wood and fine paint on their bodies and being able to do spectacular tricks such as knowing big words and jumping over tall boxes. The gray dots would represent the less attractive side of each person, such as if their wood and paint is not pretty or if they cannot do any kind of spectacular stunts, then they are awarded a gray dot. One unfortunate wooden person named Punchinello was the one who was always getting gray dots due to him not being able to do any fantastic stunts and not having smooth wood and fine paint on himself. Punchinello was so upset about all this that he decided not to go out into the village for fear of being given a gray dot for no reason at all. One day, however Punchinello meets a wooden girl named Lucia who does not have any stars or dots on herself and when Punchinello wanted to know about why Lucia does not have any dots or stars on her, Lucia tells him that he should go see Eli.
What will Eli tell Punchinello?
Read this book to find out!
Now, when I saw the “10th Anniversary” golden badge on this book, I was wondering to myself about how come this book has such a badge on the cover, as books that usually have an anniversary badge on their cover would have to be pretty well known in the reading community. As it turns out, this book was pretty popular back in the late 1990s, it is just that I have not read this book until just recently and I honestly did enjoy the cute message of this book! Max Lucado’s writing is truly heartwarming and creative and I loved the fact that the main characters were little wooden people who all resemble the puppet characters from “Pinocchio” (heck, the main character Punchinello is similar to Pinocchio) since I always loved stories that involved puppets. I felt that having the main characters as wooden people really gave the book a creative flair that really made this book stand out from the other children’s books I had read. I also loved the way that Max Lucado presented the message of being happy with who you are no matter what other people say as Punchinello is mistreated by the other Wemmicks because of the fact that he keeps getting so many gray dots on his body. It was interesting seeing the parallels of prejudice in this book as the Wemmicks judge others by the amount of stars and dots they have on their bodies and it’s similar to how people in real life judge a person based on their accomplishments rather than who they truly are. Sergio Martinez’s artworks is truly beautiful to look at as the Wemmick population looks extremely creative since they are drawn as wooden people and yet they act like and move like human beings. I also loved how gorgeous the landscape looks as the Wemmick village truly stands out in this book as it looks like an old fashioned village from the Renaissance era and yet, it is unique due to the wooden people occupying the village.
The reason why I gave this book a four star rating was because even though I loved the message of this book, I felt that the book was a bit too slow in some parts and that sort of slowed down the story for me.
Overall, “You Are Special” is a great book for children who want to learn about the importance of being yourself and to remember that there are people that care about you, no matter what anyone else thinks. I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since there is nothing inappropriate in this book.