Off the Shelf: You Are Special

Today’s book isn’t from my childhood, but I wish it was.


I pulled it off the shelf because I saw the author’s name: Max Lucado. I had no idea he wrote children’s books in addition to his prolific offerings for adults. So, I picked it up and leafed through it. The illustrations by Sergio Martinez are lovely. And so is the story.

It’s about a village full of Wemmicks, little wooden people, who were made by a kindly woodcarver named Eli who lives on the hill. Wemmicks go around all day giving each other shiny golden star stickers or ugly gray dot stickers. If you’re pretty or talented, you get stars. If you’re not, you get dots.


Punchinello got lots of dots.


He was clumsy. His wood was scratched. He didn’t always say the right thing. He had so many dots he didn’t even want to go outside. People said he deserved the dots and that he wasn’t good. Punchinello believed them and was very sad.

One day, he met a Wemmick named Lucia who didn’t have any dots at all.


When people tried to put the stickers on her, they wouldn’t stick. They just fell off. Punchinello wanted to be like Lucia, so he asked her how. She said, “It’s easy. Every day I go see Eli.”

Punchinello thought about it long and hard and decided to visit Eli.


He entered the wood shop, and at first he was scared. Then Eli welcomed him by name and invited him in.


When Eli noticed Punchinello’s dots, Punchinello apologized for them, but Eli said he didn’t care whether or not he had stars or dots. “What they think doesn’t matter, Punchinello. All that matters is what I think.”

Then, Eli said Punchinello was special, not because he had talents or because he looked pretty, but because he was Eli’s own handiwork. Nobody had ever called Punchinello special before.


Then Eli told Punchinello the secret of the stickers. They only stick if they matter to you. If they don’t matter to you, they fall off.

On his way out the door, Punchinello lost his first dot.


OK, guys. Let’s be real for a second and just appreciate that there are books out there that teach these kinds of messages to children…that there is a message like this to teach…


Do you feel like other people give you stars or dots? Which ones matter most to you? Why?


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