A tool to spur kindness conversations rather than a satisfying read unto itself.

READ REVIEW

A WORLD OF KINDNESS

Inspiration for acts of kindness, with illustrations from several artists.

The text, uncredited to a single author, uses direct address to draw readers into its central message. The first four spreads read: “Are you kind? / Do you wait your turn? / Will you help someone younger… /…or older?” Each brief line is illustrated by a different artist, with credits for the art in a table of contents. Some art is original to this book, while other illustrations have been taken from other picture books from this publisher. The result is akin to an exhibit book rather than a cohesive, illustrated narrative, and some pairings of art and text are more successful than others. The opening question is juxtaposed to a painting of three smiling children who appear black, Asian, and white and look out at readers with their hands open. This physical enactment of kindness is rather opaque compared to the next spread, which shows a child going down a slide while others await a turn. While many spreads include diverse human subjects, others, such as one reading “Do you say please and thank you? It’s easy, you know,” are illustrated with anthropomorphic animals, which might help lighten the text’s unabashed heavy-handedness. In a meta act of kindness, royalties from the proceeds from the book will support nonprofit group Think Kindness.

A tool to spur kindness conversations rather than a satisfying read unto itself. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77278-050-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.

THE LOVE LETTER

A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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