Author: Baryshnikov, Mikhail, Illustrator: Radunsky, Vladimir Title: Because. Publisher: Atheneum Books For Young Readers, 2007 ISBN: 9780689875823
Each time a young boy witnesses his grandmother’s wacky antics, he asks “Why?” The answer to this question remains a mystery throughout the course of a week, during which grandma leapfrogs, breakdances, spins, gallops and flies. At the end of the week, the secret is revealed at last, when grandma says, “I-am-a-dancer”. She does these things because she simply must; it is who she is and she makes no apologies about it.
Mikhail Baryshnikov wrote the book to encourage young children to reveal their talents to the world without being afraid of ridicule. He believes that if everyone lived this way the world will be a better place- and much more fun. Certainly he has has made a name for himself and brought joy to many by sharing his own talents. Besides being a world-famous ballet dancer (perhaps the best-known male dancer in the world), he is a renaissance man, with writer being the newest addition to his list of accomplishments.
Vladimir Radunsky- recipient of the 2004 NY Times Best Illustrator Illustrated Book of the Year Award- illustrates with sweeping, colorful images that flow throughout each page.
Recently, during a group conversation, each member was asked to describe what makes them happy. In Spanish. After all, it was a Spanish language group, although the response would have been the same in any language. My own answer came quickly to mind: salsa dancing. It has been an ongoing source of entertainment and joy for quite some time. Another thought soon followed: if certain things make us feel that happy, shouldn’t we do them as often as possible?
It can be difficult to find time to set aside for things that aren’t work or family-related, but if they are essential components for our ongoing happiness, then it seems like we can’t afford not to set some time aside. The reality is that there will always be a million excuses, a million reasons why not. Maybe it’s time to make a different mental list, a list that instead spells out all the reasons why.
Ask yourself simply, “What makes me happy?” and see what comes to mind. Follow it with the next obvious questions, “Am I setting enough time aside to do this activity?” and “What are some creative ways to add a little bit more of it into my week?” For instance, you may also be a salsa dance addict, and while it is not always possible to get dressed up and dance the night away, it probably is possible to blast your favorite tunes in the living room and dance your heart out.
Whatever it is that puts a smile on your face is important. A sense of happiness is important. Isn’t it worth putting happiness first?