A visual feast for families interested in seeing the Native world through small, kind deeds.

WHEN WE ARE KIND

Distinctive illustrations amplify a pointed moral lesson in this Native picture book for kids.

An intergenerational Native family sits in a drum circle on the cover, suggesting the importance of cooperation and community that’s elucidated in the pages that follow. What does it mean to be kind to your family, your elders, your environment, and yourself? In simple, repetitive language, Smith (who is of mixed Cree, Lakota, and Scottish heritage) explores how our behaving with generosity toward others makes us feel happy in return. By helping with laundry, walking the family dog, sharing with friends, and taking food to our elders, we learn that the gift of kindness involves giving and receiving. The first half of the book is constructed entirely on the phrase “I am kind when,” while the second half uses “I feel.” Strung together, the simple statements have the resonance of affirmations and establish a clear chain of connectedness, but there is no story arc in the conventional sense. What the book lacks in plot, it makes up for with its illustrations. Drawing on her mother’s Diné traditions, Neidhardt prominently features Navajo hair buns, moccasins, and baskets; a panoply of Indigenous characters—including one child who uses a wheelchair—is featured in rich detail. A French edition, translated by Rachel Martinez, publishes simultaneously.

A visual feast for families interested in seeing the Native world through small, kind deeds. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2522-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A simple story enhanced by its funny, gently ironic illustrations.

MY GOOD MORNING

A little girl diligently gets ready for her day but leaves lots of messes in her wake.

The unnamed girl has light brown skin and dark brown curls similar to her dad’s, and her mom is white. The characters in the digital illustrations have big, exaggerated eyes. The child narrates the text matter-of-factly in simple rhyming sentences: “Time to go potty. I can do this! / Mommy is there to make sure I don’t miss.” Each double-page spread presents a slightly different, humorous visual interpretation of the situation, and it’s in this juxtaposition that the book shines. The cat’s in the hamper, underwear and socks are on the floor, and the pink toilet paper is trailing all over. The two parents seem a little overwhelmed. As they both try to get the girl into her clothes, one arm escapes, and the dad is really sweating from exertion. She insists on tying her laces and buttoning her coat, and the illustrations show the exuberant but incomplete results. As the girl grabs her backpack, her apple rolls out, and Mommy has to grab it. At school, she hangs her coat up, but somehow it lands on the floor (her scarf is also awry), and observant viewers will notice that her shoelace is still untied. In her diverse classroom, she proudly announces: “But this time Daddy, I won’t cry”—and now readers can believe her: there’s nary a tear in sight.

A simple story enhanced by its funny, gently ironic illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60537-342-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Helpful for the right child-adult pair or group.

THE BIG BOOK ABOUT BEING BIG

A multiracial cast of children demonstrates that “BIG is being the / BIGGEST YOU / that you can be.”

An Asian child rides a two-wheeler, a younger black child rides a bike with training wheels, and a white preschooler rides a tricycle as the book’s central question is introduced: “Are you BIG yet? / When, exactly, does BIG happen?” People who say that big is “measured / by years, or / weight, or inches” are “wrong.” The text continues, “BIG is BIGGER than that.” Big is being “bright” and “kind” and “an active citizen.” Big is being “a friend to the Earth” and “a friend to yourself.” And how will you know when you’ve become big? You’ll feel “a pride inside, / a feeling of goodness… / in your heart.” Scenes show the three children spending time with family, helping elders, teaching friends, growing a garden, and outgrowing training wheels. The final spread asks, “How many little ways can you think of to be… / BIG?” Fennell’s collage illustrations use a wide range of colors and patterns for a fun, if busy, effect. A lengthy, slightly redundant endnote lists things readers can do to “Choose to Be Big!” What this purposive conversation starter lacks in artistry it may make up for in utility. This is worth a try when redirecting children’s focus from things and abilities to relationships and character is the goal.

Helpful for the right child-adult pair or group. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-9684-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Pickle Press

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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