Jacqueline Woodson, Author
E. B. Lewis, Illustrator
Nancy Paulsen Books, Fiction, 2012
Suitable for Ages: 4 -8
Themes: Acceptance, Kindness, Friendship
Opening: One morning, as we settled into our seats, the classroom door opened and the principal came in. She had a girl with her, and she said to us, “This is Maya.” Maya looked down at the floor. I think I heard her whisper Hello.
Synopsis: When Chloe first meets Maya, she notices her clothes are old and tattered and the strap on one of her shoes is broken. The teacher assigns Maya to sit next to Chloe. Maya manages to smile and say hello, but Chloe turns and looks out the window. Chloe and her friends play and eat lunch together, but ignore Maya’s attempts to join them. Whenever Mayas asks to play with the other girls, they say no. Then one day Maya’s seat is empty. After their teacher talks about kindness and its ripple effect, Chloe realizes that she and her friends have been wrong in their treatment of Maya. Is it to late?
Why I like this book: I am a Jacqueline Woodson fan. She takes on relevant subjects for children, like kindness. Her text is lyrical. Each Kindness is a story that will stay with a child. I am pleased there is no tidy ending in this story. Maya is gone. Chloe is left to think about her actions and how she lost an opportunity to make things right with Maya. The soft watercolor illustrations by E.B. Lewis really set the tone for the book and convey a lot of emotion. The last illustration is priceless and beautifully expresses Chloe’s sadness and feeling of loss. A beautiful collaboration between Woodson and Lewis. I also reviewed another book they collaborated on The Other Side.
Resources: This is a great discussion book for the classroom. It focuses on the ripple effect of our actions towards others. Visit Jacqueline Woodson at her website and learn more.
Awards: Coretta Scott King Honor Book, 2013 Jane Addams Peace Award, 2013 Charlotte Zolotow Award, Best Book of 2012 – School Library Journal