Welcome to the monthly children’s book review feature with a focus on diverse books here at Bird Meets Worm! My team of reviewers—Cara Chow, Denise Holmes, Joan Charles, Sharon Calle—and I are so excited to be championing books celebrating everything from gender diversity, people of color, the LGBTQ community to ethnic, cultural and religious minorities, people with disabilities and developmental challenges to controversial topics, unique family situations and anything and everything I did not include. It is to say we take a rightfully board view of diversity! We aim to shine a light on books that bring both familiar experiences to those who do not often see themselves represented in books and new experiences to those looking to expand their worldview. Here at Bird Meets Worm we believe in the power of story to build empathy and thus a better world for you and me and everyone. Look for a new review on the second Wednesday of every month.
By Jacqueline Woodson • Illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Picture book (ages 5-8) • 32 pages
Published by Nancy Paulsen Books • 2012
Maya is the new girl at Chloe’s school. Unlike Chloe and her classmates, Maya wears second hand clothes. Her lunches look different than everyone else’s. No matter how hard Maya tries to befriend Chloe, Chloe shuns her, as does everyone else in her class.
Then one day, Maya doesn’t come to school. The teacher tosses a pebble into a bowl of water, demonstrating how the kindness you give ripples out into the world. Each student is asked to drop a pebble in the water and share a kindness he or she has done. As Chloe holds her pebble, she looks back on how she treated Maya and wants to make a different choice.
Woodson’s prose is poignant and powerful. Her story breaks form with most children’s stories, which have happy endings, showing the real life consequences of poor choices. Some readers may find the ending a little hard to digest. Nonetheless, Each Kindness is still redemptive, as Chloe faces her mistakes and is transformed. E.B. Lewis does a beautiful job with his watercolor illustrations, exquisitely depicting each character’s expression and body language. This book is definitely deserving of the Coretta Scott King Honor and the Jane Addams Peace Award.
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Reviewed by: Cara Chow