Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-09-17
- Reviewer: Staff
When a new and clearly impoverished girl named Maya shows up at school (“Her coat was open and the clothes beneath it looked old and ragged”), Chloe and her friends brush off any attempt to befriend her. Even when Maya valiantly—and heartbreakingly—tries to fit in and entice the girls to play with her, she is rejected. Then one day, Maya is gone, and Chloe realizes that her “chance of a kindness” is “more and more forever gone.” Combining realism with shimmering impressionistic washes of color, Lewis turns readers into witnesses as kindness hangs in the balance in the cafeteria, the classroom, and on the sun-bleached playground asphalt; readers see how the most mundane settings can become tense testing grounds for character. Woodson, who collaborated with Lewis on The Other Side and Coming On Home Soon, again brings an unsparing lyricism to a difficult topic. The question she answers with this story is one that can haunt at any age: what if you’re cruel to someone and never get the chance to make it right? Ages 5–8. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Dwyer & O’Grady. (Oct.)
The ripples of human kindness
The creators of The Other Side and the Caldecott Honor-winning Coming on Home Soon team up again in another beautifully illustrated picture book that touches hearts and minds.
Just as snow falls on young Chloe’s community, a new girl named Maya appears at the door of her classroom. The first things Chloe notices are Maya’s ragged coat and broken springtime shoes. When Maya takes the seat next to Chloe and smiles, Chloe looks away without returning the smile—that day and every day after.
Jacqueline Woodson’s poetic narration and E.B. Lewis’ stunning watercolors, which use light, shadow and perspective for dramatic effect, capture the hurt feelings as Chloe and her friends whisper secrets and snub Maya’s attempts at friendship. One day Maya stops asking to play and jumps rope alone. The next day her seat is empty, the same day that teacher Ms. Albert drops a stone into a bowl of water, and the children watch as waves ripple away. “This is what kindness does, Ms. Albert said. Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.”
While each classmate drops a stone into the water and recalls a kind act, such as helping with a baby brother’s diaper or carrying the teacher’s books, Chloe can’t think of one act of kindness she has done lately. When she discovers that Maya will not be returning, she laments her missed opportunities to be kind to her classmate. A lesser author would have made this a didactic moment. In Woodson’s soft, lyrical tone, Chloe’s dilemma becomes an occasion for personal reflection. From now on, when they watch water ripple, readers of Each Kindness will ponder their own gifts to the world and the splash they can make.