A Small Kindness by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Wendy Leach

A Small Kindness

by Stacy McAnulty

illustrated by Wendy Leach

Review Copy from Hachette Books

A Small Kindness is a superbly simple, stunningly powerful picture book. "It was like a game of tag," are the first and penultimate words of this book that makes concrete the abstract, showing not just "a small kindness," as the titles suggests, but the way that this seemingly singular act can become like a game of tag, being passed from one child to the next. Paired with McAnulty's excellent linking of the sharing of kindnesses and a game of tag, Leach's illustrations so perfectly bring this concept to the page that you almost don't need the words to understand what is happening. The dedication page shows a shy student, peering around the corner, and is entirely in sepia tones. A page turn, and a with kindness from Ms. Jones, Alice is in color. Smiles, sharing, holding doors for others, compliments, helping and listening are among the small kindnesses that are shared throughout the class and school, passing from one child to the next, and even to adult, like Mr. Freeman, the custodian. The book ends with the comparison to a game of tag where, "everyone wins." 

Working as a librarian in a school with students ranging from pre-K to sixth grade, I was reminded every day how my reading of a picture book to myself and forming an opinion of it was easily and often re-formed when I read it out loud to a class. From this experience, I learned that the simplest, most straightforward way to tell a story (or, even more challenging, illustrate an abstract concept like kindness) is ideal. Yet, this is often the hardest kind of story to tell well without being didactic. McAnulty and Leach achieve this with a book that is sure to have a lasting impact on all who read it or have it read to them. 

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