Lift by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

Are your kids in major need of escape from your apartment or house right now? If so, Lift by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat (the same duo who brought us Drawn Together), might be the perfect inspiration for some much-needed imaginative adventures! Read on to see why we love this picture book (that is also a perfect bridge into reading graphic novels) that perfectly captures the ups and downs of sibling relationships AND will motivate children to transform their days with a simple push of a button.

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Meet Iris, the big sister in a family, with a very important job — to push the elevator buttons every time her family rides the elevator. Until, that is, the day that her little brother usurps her place in the family, not only stealing her beloved tiger toy, but also… pushing the elevator buttons! Iris’s way of expressing her jealousy and frustration (pushing every single elevator button the next time they ride…) doesn’t go over very well with her family. Feeling downtrodden and disheartened, Iris’s day turns around when she recovers an old elevator button from the trash, where it has been discarded during a repair. After taping it on the wall of her room, though, she discovers that this elevator button is no ordinary elevator button. In fact, it seems to serve as a magic portal, turning a normal closet door into a magic portal to amazing adventures beyond! Home is always waiting back where she found it, though, and it is this home and the family it holds that make Iris truly happy, not pushing elevator buttons.

Santat (who also illustrated two of our other favorites: The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend and After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) is a perfect choice to illustrate these “out of the world” adventurous illustrations. Santat has masterfully illustrated the every family members’ feelings through their facial expressions. We feel Iris’s jealousy grow, we watch her parents’ patience wane, we experience her curiosity about the button, and we are touched by her love and protection of her little brother. His panels keep the story moving, and his spreads pull your heart in. You’ll come back to this one time and time again for both the story and the illustrations!

Though Lê’s story is beautiful and Santat’s illustrations are magical, my favorite thing about Lift is the relationship between Iris and her little brother. It’s just so real, full of the frustration, jealousy, and rivalry that siblings feel, but also wrapped up in the unfailing love and protection of an older sibling. Always on the lookout for books that showcase this kind of sibling love, Lift rose high on my list of favorite books about siblings after just one reading. And since my girls love this one so much we’ve read it approximately 736 times since getting it 3 weeks ago, I can honestly say it gets better every time!

If you liked this, be sure to check out the other books on our creativity booklist, as well as the rest of the books on our 90 Books for 90 Days of Summer booklist. You might also like:

What books do you love that model positive sibling relationships?

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