Shovelful of Sunshine
by Stacie Vaughn Hutton
Headline Kids

"I don't want to dream about them anymore, not when any day something bad might happen."

Luminescent illustrations depict the relationship between Meggie, an imaginative child in love with "faraway places you always dream about," and her coal-mining father. Normally energetic, Meggie finds herself refusing her friend's request to play in Mill Creek. Instead, she buries herself in the comfort of her blanket, deathly afraid that the coal mining accident on the news could someday hurt her father.

At its core, Hutton's story teaches kids that the fear of something bad happening shouldn't keep you from achieving your dreams. In the book, she sheds light on the hard-working and ever-dangerous lives of the coal miner, and the sacrifices of generations of miners to give girls like Meggie the opportunity for a bright future and most importantly hope.

The image of the daily shining sun resonates throughout the story as a symbol of possibilities. Interestingly, Meggie’s father is able to cheer her up by planting flowers in their yard, and comparing the sunshine they receive to a coal miner's job description. The duo carefully plant the seeds in a spot where there is immense sunshine; Meggie watches the flower grow and realizes that her grandpa's message, "go where there is sunshine," simply means to be positive and hope for the best, regardless of the circumstances.

Though a children’s story, the author's choice of topic will certainly touch many families who have been affected by tragedies in the coal mine, and many others who see their son, husband, or father enter the mines daily. Overall, Hutton does an impressive job of spreading hope, positivity, and the importance of reaching for one's dreams.

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