October 2012

The ripples of human kindness

By Jacqueline Woodson
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The creators of The Other Side and the Caldecott Honor-winning Coming on Home Soon team up again in another beautifully illustrated picture book that touches hearts and minds.

Just as snow falls on young Chloe’s community, a new girl named Maya appears at the door of her classroom. The first things Chloe notices are Maya’s ragged coat and broken springtime shoes. When Maya takes the seat next to Chloe and smiles, Chloe looks away without returning the smile—that day and every day after.

Jacqueline Woodson’s poetic narration and E.B. Lewis’ stunning watercolors, which use light, shadow and perspective for dramatic effect, capture the hurt feelings as Chloe and her friends whisper secrets and snub Maya’s attempts at friendship. One day Maya stops asking to play and jumps rope alone. The next day her seat is empty, the same day that teacher Ms. Albert drops a stone into a bowl of water, and the children watch as waves ripple away. “This is what kindness does, Ms. Albert said. Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.”

While each classmate drops a stone into the water and recalls a kind act, such as helping with a baby brother’s diaper or carrying the teacher’s books, Chloe can’t think of one act of kindness she has done lately. When she discovers that Maya will not be returning, she laments her missed opportunities to be kind to her classmate. A lesser author would have made this a didactic moment. In Woodson’s soft, lyrical tone, Chloe’s dilemma becomes an occasion for personal reflection. From now on, when they watch water ripple, readers of Each Kindness will ponder their own gifts to the world and the splash they can make.

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Each Kindness

Each Kindness

By Jacqueline Woodson
ISBN 9780399246524

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