What Do You Do With An Idea?, written by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom
There is a certain warmth in this particular book, written for children but certainly a book that many adults can relate to, on the importance of creativity and its results. A great deal of that warmth comes from the illustrations, which are rendered in pencils and watercolor that give a traditional feel to a somewhat whimsical tale. The main characters in this book are a boy who is somewhat shy and timid (this is repeated throughout the series as a whole, it should be noted) as well as an idea, which happens to be viewed as an egg with odd legs and a crown. As a person who is deeply interested in symbolism, I found the connection of ideas with royalty and fertility to be deeply interesting, and wonder how much time and effort on the part of the author and illustrator went into the development of the symbols within the book. The book as a whole is encouraging and would likely be appropriate for young readers as well as pre-readers who were sufficiently curious about the world for someone to explain the book’s concepts to them.
The book itself a short one and a straightforward one. A young boy has an idea and wonders about where it came from and what one does with it. At first he ignores the idea and neglects it because of his uncertainty and the idea’s strangeness, but the idea follows him, leading the boy to worry about how others will think, hiding the idea and keeping it private. The idea’s air of magic encourages the boy, though, and the boy finds that the idea is hungry for food and attention, as ideas often are. Eventually the idea becomes bigger and the boy and the idea become friends, and eventually the idea goes public and faces a varied and complex response. This leads to another crisis of confidence on the part of the boy, before he resolves to protect and defend the idea as belonging to him. This leads the idea to grow as well as the love of the boy for the idea, and eventually the boy builds a house for the idea where it is safe to dream and the idea shares its secrets with the friendly boy, to the point where eventually the idea goes into the world and is no longer a part of himself alone but a part of everything.
There is obviously something immensely flattering about such a conception of ideas. Most of us like being in the possession of secrets, after all. Likewise, ideas do tend to be needy of affection and resources in order to grow and flourish, and plenty of people do tend to think negatively of those with new ideas. This book presents ideas and novelty as good just on their own merits, and that is where my own problem with this book takes place. There seems to be high degree of gnostic spirituality in this particular book with the idea that having a creative spark makes one a superior sort of person to others. Additionally, this book suffers for not viewing creativity within a moral worldview by which it leads us to have greater respect and honor for God because our creativity is the result of having been created in the image and likeness of a Creator God, nor are ideas themselves judged by their moral contents, which can be an immensely fatal error in a world where it is easy to run free with ideas and not recognize the consequences that those ideas have on our lives and the lives of others.