Children have a natural sense of creativity and exploration. But as they age, their own ingenuity is often repressed or crushed by doubts of peers, self-consciousness or fear of failure. The Thing About Swings (Mascot Books), written by Mona Patel and illustrated by Tomas Christensen, encourages creative thinking, open-mindedness and teamwork in young readers through the charming plot of designing a swing for an elephant.
Mona Patel, a builder since she was two, hopes to foster the same creativity and desire to design in children all over the world. As CEO and Founder of her own design company, Motivate Design, and author of the manual Reframe: Shift the Way You Work, she has inspired many other innovators to create wonderful products through simple and effective planning. Tomas Christensen contrasts beautifully minimalist black and white settings with colorful objects and animals to create unique and fun illustrations that match the quirky story perfectly. He too has been creatively working since a young child.
The story begins with a disappointed elephant who cannot swing like the other animals on a swing set. Determined to make a swing that will be able to hold large animals, our engineering elephant brainstorms some ideas with friends, a monkey and two boars. These three friends assist the elephant in gathering materials, talking through building the swing and even implementing other improvements to the design besides supporting large weight. Thinking outside the box, these friends help our tusked hero to include features such as using a material that won’t make the swing so hot and an ejecting seat with a timer to make sure everyone takes turns.
Through the whole creative and constructive process, they have one friend, a skunk, who criticizes their ideas and tries to dissuade the animals from carrying out their design. Using classic disapproving language such as “it’s too expensive” and questioning the need for the swing, the skunk refuses to empathize with the elephant. The skunk represents many naysayers your child is likely to run into when proposing ideas and changes later in life.
The elephant, boars and monkey maturely state to the skunk that “if we wait for perfect, we will never get anything done.” It’s important not to focus on the can’ts of the project and instead funnel your efforts into what can be done. With teamwork, the friends are able to make a swing they all can enjoy, even admittedly the skunk at the end. This children’s book will delight your young thinkers and leave them grasping for their blocks with one hand, and a blueprint with the other.
The Thing About Swings is now available for purchase.
ABOUT MONA PATEL:
Mona Patel is a dynamic entrepreneur with 17-years experience convincing leaders at some of the world’s biggest brands, including NASA, BMW, and Microsoft, to understand, value and optimize their customers’ experiences. As the CEO and Founder of Motivate Design, a user-centered design agency based in New York City, Mona developed the Reframework, an eight-step process that any company can use to innovate and design simple, beautiful experiences.
As an author, Mona has written the bestselling design thinking manual Reframe: Shift the Way You Work, Innovate and Think and the children’s book The Thing About Swings, inspired by her first book and geared towards the next generation of design thinkers. In addition to Mona’s personal drive and memorable charisma, the “momtrepreneur” gives back by running YOUTHx, a design camp for kids, and donating 100% of the profits from the sale of The Thing About Swings to the non-profit organization E-School for Girls. Mona has taught at Parsons The New School and lectured at Columbia University and General Assembly, in addition to a myriad other speaking engagements, and is a contributor to Forbes, HBR, Entrepreneur and other online publications.
Visit her at her website for more information.
ABOUT TOMAS CHRISTENSEN:
Tomas has been drawing funny pictures from the time he could pick up a pencil. He also designs user experiences, hangs out with his kids and bakes bread when it’s not too hot outside. Visit his website for more information.
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