Leonard’s Beard (Hardcover)


Leonard’s Beard (Hardcover)

Leonard’s Beard is a story about discovering what is important in life. The rhyming text is perfect for reading aloud, and the illustrations of all of the silly things that wind up in Leonard’s beard will have little ones giggling on each reread!

Immediately when I read Leonard’s Beard, a children’s book about a writer who has shut himself off from others, the lyrics to the Beatles song “Fool on the Hill” came to my mind.  I’ll put a few lines below and explain why a book called ‘Leonard’s Beard’ had me thinking about the Fab Four!

The Fool on the Hill by the Beatles

Day after day alone on the hill
The man with the foolish grin
Is keeping perfectly still
But nobody wants to know him
They can see that he’s just a fool
And he never seems to notice
But the fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning round
You see, I simultaneously relate to this song and to Leonard’s Beard for the same reason.  Why?  I am an introverted observer.  Some may call it having social anxiety, but I tend to think of it as enjoying the company of my own thoughts.  I don’t dislike people, in fact, I do think of myself as a sensitive and empathetic person, but I also know that it is a challenge for me to feel like ‘myself’ in a group and that I find it mentally exhausting to have to carry on conversation after conversation when I know other people thrive on it.  There’s a challenge of getting out of my own head and living in the ‘real world’ where I have to continuously engage with others.  I often wondered as a child why it was so difficult for me to be social when it seemed so EASY to everyone else.  I now realize it’s not always easy for everyone else and each person has their own social struggles.  I could easily become a ‘fool on the hill’ without a second thought, but whether or not I ever felt lonely is not the actual point I want to make.  I can actually rationally say I wouldn’t feel lonely, but that I also wouldn’t be fully living or broadening my own horizons to live a full life in my own head.  OK, enough of the self analyzing, let me now talk about why I enjoyed reading Leonard’s Beard and why I think it’s a great story for children to read!

Leonard is a writer and he has may stories to tell.  He lives alone in his house on the hill with his dogs and a frog and writes adventure stories full of excitement.  Leonard’s writing consumes him so much that he finds that he has actually lost touch with anyone from the outside world and that makes him feel very lonely.  During his self-imposed annexation from other people, Leonard grows out his beard to where it is so long and so wild and untamed that he doesn’t notice a major storm is brewing or that his unkempt appearance has grown incredibly unsanitary.  THEN THE STORM HITS and Leonard’s house becomes damaged and once it passes he begins to examine his life including all of the strange things that have accumulated in his beard.

Yes, Leonard’s Beard is partly a very funny story about a man so focused on writing that he has allowed his facial hair to become a breeding ground for animals and food.  It is also a very painfully obvious story line for someone like me who from time to time need that big gust of wind to knock out a window so that I can actually realize that the more that I am consumed with my internal thoughts, my external actions can prevent me from having my own adventures.  Leonard could be out there having his own amazing tales to tell just by living them and instead he discovers that not only has his beard grow out of control, he has let his own social avoidance keep him from growing as a person to experience his own adventures.  Teaching, learning, and writing should not be mutually exclusive.  In fact, they complement each other quite nicely.  If there is a good way for me to sum up the lesson in Leonard’s Beard, it’s to not get caught up and allow one thing to consume your life so that you can’t grow as a person.  We need others, we need experiences, we need analyzers, we need writers, we need teachers; but they should all work simultaneously in us in order to excel at any or all of those things.  I’m not saying it’s an easy thing for any of us to do, but it certainly makes me strive to be better in the areas where I need more experience.  Thanks, Leonard’s Beard, for giving me that not so subtle reminder to continue interacting and growing even if it feels strange or uncomfortable and thank you for giving me a tool to talk to my children about the importance of living your life to its fullest.

About Sky Pony Press:  Sky Pony Press, with Good Books, Racehorse and Arcade imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of books for young readers—picture books for small children, chapter books, books for middle grade readers, and novels for young adults. Their list includes bestsellers for children who love to play Minecraft; stories told with LEGO bricks; books that teach lessons about tolerance, patience, and the environment, and much more. While not every title they publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, they are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

About the Author/Illustrator:  Nancy Cote is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator who finds joy in the smallest things. She is the author and illustrator for numerous picture books, including Watch the Cookie!, Watch the Birdie!, and Puddle Jumpers (all published with Sky Pony Press). Nancy lives along a river in the historic village of Somerset, Massachusetts.

Leonard’s Beard (Hardcover)


List Price: $ 16.99 (Available through Amazon Prime)

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