Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Beautiful Useful Things by Beth Kephart & Melodie Stacey


Beautiful Useful Things: What William Morris Made
Beth Kephart & Melodie Stacey
Cameron Kids, a division of Abrams. 2022

In this beautifully crafted book with lyrical text, readers will discover William Morris, an English man who loved beautiful things. Taking inspiration from the world around him, Morris believed all things crafted by hand were special. Best known for his colorful wallpapers and textiles, Morris also was a painter, poet, an environmentalist, and activist.

Morris was born in 1834. Possessing a rich imagination, Morris drew inspiration from nature. He felt you honored beauty by making items yourself. One at a time. He found items mass produced in factories to be ordinary and cheap. 

“One thing looking just like the next thing.” 

As an environmentalist, he saw the damage to nature as “the skies filled with smoke, the rivers polluted, and the forests thinned.”

Throughout his life, despite the proliferation of mass-produced items, Morris continued to create wallpaper, tapestries, rugs, stained glass, poetry, and, eventually he crafted books, one at a time.

Morris died in 1896.

The book includes a short author and illustrator’s note, and a list of sources used. 

Every time one buys local, you are honoring what Morris held dear. 

Share this book if you do story time at the Farmers’ Market. All the elements combine to make this picture book biography a memorable reading experience.

To learn more about William Morris and his lasting influence, click here to visit the William Morris Society website.

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