Kate and I stumbled on 2 lovely picture books last night that address service in understated ways. The first, Pumpkins, by Mary Lou Ray is a story about a man who wants to save a field. He does so by growing and selling pumpkins around the world -- it has a bit of magic and wonder and prompted a great discussion about how people can solve problems and help the land and others in creative ways. Plus, it was about pumpkins, which is a hot topic around here right now.
The second book, Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, is a classic, but it was the first time Kate really listened intently. This story traces Alice Rumphius's life -- Kate was intrigued by her aging process -- as she goes about 1) living in far away places, 2) living by the sea, and 3) making the world more beautiful. The book challenges all of us to really think about our place and purpose in the world, and it is really fun to discuss ideas of beauty with a small person.