Previously, I related that I had read a book given to me during a meeting by colleague, the 1st grade teacher. Just after reading, What Do You Do With an Idea?, while I was still amazed by how good it was, she pulled What Do You Do With a Problem? from her bag and told me if I liked the former, I’d really like the latter.
Just as with the first book, this second one personifies “problem” by making it a shape with legs. The same boy from the first book is in the second, and he encounters the problem without looking for it. The problem won’t leave him and as his frustration with the problem grows, the illustrations become darker until there’s no color, it’s just black and white.
Once again, the illustrations not only add to the telling of the story, but almost tell a story of their own. Because so much of children’s literature blends illustration with print, I think that Kobi Yamada should be considered a stable in classroom libraries.
Sometimes the toughest thing about a children’s book is how to convey abstract ideas about life. The author and illustrator for this book have figured out a powerful formula for achieving that goal. Giving the “problem” a body and having it interact with the protagonist gives readers a visual understanding of the characters’ relationship that accompanies the writing. The use of color adds a layer of depth that again cues the visual sense into what the underlying idea is.