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What We’re Reading: Each Kindness

Post by Kathy Stewart
Posted September 18, 2013 in NoveList Bookshelf, NoveList Plus, NoveList Select

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Each Kindness

by Jacquelyn Woodson


Let me just say that I put off reading Each Kindness. Why? I feared that it would be a 'message' picture book, one which exists solely to deliver a lesson via a spoonful of sugar. It's a universal story: a new girl, Maya, joins a class in which friendships are already formed. Time passes and despite her efforts to engage the other girls, there are no takers on her offers of jacks and jump rope.

While I do think there's a message here, I unreservedly love this book. I think my visceral reaction to this book is for several reasons: in part because of my own childhood in a military family, often spent as the new girl, makes me keenly aware of Maya's point of view. In part because of E.B. Lewis's exquisitely expressive art, which vividly captures characters' emotions as opportunities for kindness present themselves but are not acted on. But more than anything, I appreciate Jacquelyn Woodson's approach. She understands the nuances that make us who we are. The characters are not stock, and the plot is not formulaic. She respects her readers enough to not resort to an artificially happy ending.

-- Kathy Stewart, Juvenile Content Specialist