Joanna Guest compiles and discusses the myriad notes she and her brother received from their dad, Bob. He created a note—with both writing and art—every day during most of their school years. Bob is an artist, a philosophic thinker, but most of all, he’s a dad. And like most dads, he wants to be good at that lifetime job. He wants to raise children who grow into good people who love and appreciate themselves and others.

Guest captures this perfectly as she chooses which notes to include in Folded Wisdom. But she also gives her readers more than just the notes. By organizing them, she adds a feeling of flow to their spontaneous creation. She also offers context, with some family history and insights into her dad’s perspective on life.

This is an inspiring book, without being preachy. It’s not a self-help book—despite all the sage advice contained therein. There’s no conversation about taking Bob’s advice and applying to our lives. And yet, perhaps its reading community will do just that.

Guest also ends the book with a tear-out page for readers to follow in Bob’s footsteps. She even included folding directions. So, more than giving admonitions on how to be, Folded Wisdom gently encourages readers to turn around and do this for the kids in their lives.

Imagine if every reader started this tradition with their kids! Wouldn’t our world become a better place for all the people who’d grow up with so much love expressed to them?

My conclusions

I read this book from the perspective of both daughter and mother / grandmother. I was so close to my own dad, and remember many of the wise and witty things he said. But, like Guest’s father Bob, the most important thing I received from my dad was unconditional love. And what I would give for a treasure chest of his thoughts like this!

The notes Bob wrote to his young children are quite precious. But I loved the notes from their teen years the most. The ideas get more complex, and the connections to current events grow stronger. He’s preparing his kids to launch, while wrapping his brain around having an empty nest.

This is a kind of gently illustrated memoir of parenthood. And at the same time, it felt like a “daily wisdom” book because each entry is relatively short. Never mind pigeon-holing it into a genre. Just go buy a copy!


Many thanks to Celadon Books and the author for a copy of this beautiful book in exchange for my honest review. I will treasure it!