A classroom story about how mindfulness can bring happiness to others and oneself.
Written by a mindfulness educator, this picture book provides readers with a glimpse into a school where teacher Ms. Snowden guides her pupils in mindfulness and “Heartfulness” exercises. She asks them to imagine someone who makes them happy and then to think the words “May you be happy. May you be healthy and strong. May you be peaceful,” and to reflect on how this makes them feel. While the other kids each identify a person, the eponymous Henry imagines his Rubik’s Cube. Ms. Snowden accepts this choice in stride, and she’s later supportive when Henry has difficulty thinking of anything he’s done to share in the class’s “Kindness Project.” His classmates, a diverse group (both Henry and Ms. Snowden appear black), make pictures to represent their own kind acts, but for some reason, Henry can’t come up with anything. His peers kindly remind him of kindnesses he’s performed in their lives, and Henry participates, though the book never explains why he at first had difficulty. Throughout, Malone’s line illustrations show promise in characterization and expressiveness, but the text is wordy (especially at the beginning), and the interaction of art and text within the layout is not always smooth.
A heartfelt, earnest, useful book with some rough edges. (Picture book. 5-8)