7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #294: Featuring E. B. Lewis

h1 August 26th, 2012 by jules

“One day, while we were near the slide, Maya came over to us. She held open her hand to show us the shiny jacks and tiny red ball she’d gotten for her birthday.
It’s a high bouncer, she said. But none of us wanted to play.
So Maya played a game against herself.”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)

Just about everywhere you look these days, you see one campaign or another against bullying. Surely, many of these efforts do some good, though what bothers me is the occasional organization with inherently exclusive inclinations (you can belong to this group, as long as you’re not ____ or _____) mounting such campaigns. Personally, I think it all starts and ends with parents teaching their children that we should all treat each other the way we ourselves want to be treated, and that’s about all there is to it. At the same time, I know these things can be complicated.

Nevertheless, what I always want to say in response to the fight-against-bully campaigns is that there are some great picture books in the world that tell straight-up good stories about kindness and empathy. And storytelling is the way we should go about this, yes? No child wants to be lectured, and who doesn’t want to hear an engaging story? Right? Right!

Cue Jacqueline Woodson’s latest picture book, illustrated by E. B. Lewis. It’s called Each Kindness and will be released in October by Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin. Booklist’s starred review has already described this as a “quiet, intense” book, and they aren’t kidding about the “intense” part. I may or may not have sought the nearest tissue to wipe my goofy ‘ol wet face after having first read it to my own children.

The story is told from the point of view of a young girl named Chloe. She chronicles the arrival of a new student in her classroom. Maya shows up with hand-me-down clothes: “We all stared at her. Her coat was open and the clothes beneath it looked old and ragged. Her shoes were spring shoes, not meant for the snow. A strap on one of them had broken.” The class turns a cold shoulder to Maya. Even Chloe, next to whom Maya is seated, never once returns Maya’s smile.

“The days grew warmer and warmer. The pond thawed. Grass began growing where snow had once been. One day, Maya came to school wearing a pretty dress and fancy shoes. But the shoes and the dress looked like they’d belonged
to another girl before Maya.”

(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)

Now, children can be mean. ALL of them. I repeat: Even those parents who think they have little angels may be surprised to know that children are social, clique’y creatures by nature. And they exclude. They cluster. They whisper. Both boys and girls. Some way more than others. And some do this very little, if only once in a blue moon. But still … This is their nature, and it’s the job of grown-ups to discuss this with them. “Every day,” Woodson writes, “we whispered about Maya, laughing at her clothes, her shoes, the strange food she brought for lunch.”

Yep, the strange food she brought for lunch. These stories that get clumped under the Bullying Theme don’t have to be about the big, trollish kid stealing the nerd’s lunch money. This is a story of the subtle, quiet cruelties of children.

Whenever Maya asks Chloe and her friends to play, they say no.

“The next day, Maya’s seat was empty. In class that morning, we were talking about kindness. Ms. Albert had brought a big bowl into class and filled it with water. We all gathered around her desk and watched her drop a small stone into it. Tiny waves rippled out, away from the stone. This is what kindness does, Ms. Albert said.
Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.”
(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)

When Chloe’s teacher discusses kindness one day, using a small stone she drops into a bowl of water—“Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world”—she asks the class to consider kind things they’d done. “Even small things count,” she tells them. Chloe stands motionless, silent. “…I couldn’t think of anything and passed the stone on.”

Maya doesn’t return to school. And the last spread below tells you how this tale ends. Not happily ever after, by any stretch of the imagination.

“I watched the water ripple as the sun set through the maples and the chance of a kindness with Maya becoming more and more forever gone.”
(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)

But that’s exactly as it should be. A pat, tidy ending would be a disservice to this story, and Woodson has too much respect for child readers to do that.

This is powerful stuff — and with the great E. B. Lewis’ luminous watercolors. This is a story that says tons more about kindness, I dare say, than any complicated, expensive anti-bullying campaign ever could.

If I ran the world, I’d give a copy of this book to every elementary classroom teacher and librarian. For that matter, this is a story for middle schoolers and high schoolers and growns-up, too.

And, having just read David Ezra Stein’s brand-new Because Amelia Smiled, I think these two books would be so perfect paired together. More on Stein’s book later …

EACH KINDNESS. Text copyright © 2012 by Jacqueline Woodson. Illustrations copyright © 2012 by E. B. Lewis. Published by Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin, New York. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

How about that book, y’all? I should probably add that The Other Side by the same author-illustrator duo is one of my favorite picture books of all time.

1) The Society of Illustrators announced the winners of the 2012 Original Art Award. I always love seeing this announcement, and I like their choices this year. The Gold Medal winner, for those who would like to see more of the art, was featured here at 7-Imp last year. That book is specialness forever.

2) Getting a simple “I love you and you can do it” from a dear friend can make a lousy week a good one.

3) It was a good week to be a fan of Rufus Wainwright’s music, given this profile at CBS’ Sunday Morning, as well as NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert (below) for which they squeezed a big ‘ol piano into their tiny office.

4) I know I’ve said this seven skerjillion times before, but I love the artwork of Amy June Bates. I mean, just look at this.

5) I’m reading Carol Shields’ The Stone Diaries and like it so much that I can hardly put it down. If I got behind on work last week, I blame this novel. Yeah. That’s the ticket.

6) The girls and I read a galley of Judith Viorst’s Lulu Walks the Dog and laughed ourselves silly at the character Fleischman and his “I’m Here to Bring Some Happiness Into Your Life” tee shirt, but more on this book later.

7) The Lumineers + one of my favorite songs (this one) = one great cover:

The LumineersNaive Melody (You Oughta Know Live)The Lumineers Music VideosLive Performances

BONUS #1: Did you see this New Yorker cartoon?

BONUS #2: I’m typing this on Friday night, because on Saturday night I’m going to my friend’s house for her belated birthday party, and lots of wine and even some cake will be had. This is a kick-in-advance; I predict I will have a good time.

BONUS #3: As I’m typing this, my girls are in the next room speaking in their faux British accents, pretending to be Harry and Hermione. (OBSESSED they are.)

What are YOUR kicks this week?

32 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #294: Featuring E. B. Lewis”

  1. This book sounds lovely. Thanks for sharing it, Jules. And your kick 2 fits in well with the theme!

    Bonus #3 I remember doing that but with the Famous Five as I had some LPs of the stories with the cutest British accents…

    1. Daffodil day is a fundraising day for the Cancer Council late in winter when daffodils are out (well down south anyway, it’s a bit warm for them here). It was last Friday, and coming through the city it was delightful seeing bunches of cheery daffodils sticking out of people’s bags!
    2. A baby shower in a sunny park for friends who have been wanting this baby for a long time
    3. Realising that a gift voucher for a nursery was running out, we had a gardening day yesterday, and put in some nice plants. We also got a bird box that will go up next weekend, will be interesting to see if anything moves in.
    4. Our street has a bank running down the middle with trees on it, and we planted a spare wattle on it yesterday. I am not sure if this is permissible (perhaps it is guerilla gardening?) but I suspect that most of the trees on the strip have been planted by earlier residents of the street, and like feeling like I am contributing by filling a gap with something wildlife will enjoy!
    5. Our pumpkin vine (which was seeded via the chickens eating our scraps we think) has been looking like it’s going to die, and we were about to help it on its way when we found a pumpkin growing that we’d both overlooked. Surprise free pumpkin can’t be knocked.
    6. Finding out I had an extra week on a work project than I had planned for
    7. I have fit in a short nap both days this weekend, bliss

  2. I think you for this review and your thoughtful reflections. I have added it to my ASAP purchase pile. I agree with your love for Amy June Bates art and I can hardly wait to see Lulu Walks The Dog.
    Emmaco: I think planting the tree where you did and why is absolutely perfect.

    1. I wrote and bravely posted an essay on my blog this week.
    2. If I aerated my lawn (which I don’t, its gone to weeds in this dryness) I wouldn’t have to because a gathering of skunks had a grub-digging jamboree there night before last.
    3. The deer after eating all my Swiss chard left me two big green tomatoes which I will watch turn to red (I hope)
    4. I cooked up a storm for my book group on Thursday. I love to cook.
    5. I winked at the moon last night for Neil Armstrong.
    6. I took my dog to the vet on Monday. She’s 12. He said she might have another 2 years left. Hurray for both of us.
    7. The sun just came out. So no rain again. But I can haul hoses with the best of them.

  3. My little one begins first grade this Wednesday. Glad to have the cycles of the school year to help mark the time — slows the slide of life with regular turns.

    Here’s a little end-of-summer meditation:

    None Unhurried, None at Rest
    By Steven Withrow

    Nothing milder than the rabbit,
    alone with his lunch of chicory,
    but never, as he stiffens, alone
    a long stretch, for even the warmth
    that heavies the August wind
    hastens him on with hawk-flight, cat-calls.

    © 2012 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

  4. I just love Woodson’s work and Lewis’ watercolors are beautiful. Bullying is such an issue in schools.
    Jules I loved Bonus Kick 3.
    Emmaco, how fun to think of daffodils blooming in the world now while mine are preparing for next spring.
    Margie, am going to go read your essay.
    My kicks can pretty much be rolled up into an overnight visit with oldest grandgirl:
    Walk/ run our almost 2 yo doxie, Buster ( she loves him and he is exhausted when she leaves)
    Watching Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland
    Finding pinecones

  5. Oops… accidentally hit send used the pinecones to make bird feeders w/ peanut butter and seed, swinging at the park, and playing card games.
    Have a great week.

  6. Jules- The post alone had me teary eyed. E.B.’s pictures alone evoke emotions.
    I saw the Waldo cartoon earlier this week on my phone and laughed out loud on a crowded beach.
    Kick #2

  7. E.B. Lewis is one of my favorite illustrators. Seeing his work here is a kick in itself. This book sounds perfect for sharing with the children I read to. (I’m moving up to third grade this year after two years with second graders.)

  8. Thank you Jules, Jacqueline Woodson, and E. B. Lewis for sharing a sneak peek of Each Kindness. I really like that line, Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.” Thank you.

    Good morning, Imps! Hope you had a fantabulous week.

    Jules: I hope next week is much better for you. High-five to your accented offspring!

    emmaco: Hope you had a successful fundraiser. Best wishes to your friends. Yay for gardening day! Hope the pumpkins prosper. Naps are lovely.

    Margie: Hugs to your dog. Hurrah for the sun and the moon. Hope your book group is going well. Yay for blogging.

    Steven: Best wishes to your student!

    Jone: Glad that they are having a good visit. Thanks for feeding the birds.

    Susan: Best wishes with your storytime readings!

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Performing
    2) Auditioning
    3) Writing
    4) Surviving transitions
    5) Leverage, a TV show you should all watch! New episode tonight at 9 PM PM/EST on TNT flashes back to the 70s with The D.B. Cooper Job!
    6) Appreciation
    7) Next

  9. Emmaco: Surprise free pumpkins and surprise short naps are great things, and you’re making me want to take a nap right now. For kick #1, I thought you said cherry daffodils at first, and I think cherry daffodils would be just lovely, but cheery daffodils are just as good. Congrats to your friends with the upcoming wee babe!

    Margie, as for kick #1, do you mean your essay about Ivan? As for kick #2, I love the word “jamboree.” … I wish I could be a fly on the wall for your book group. Here’s hoping you get some rain.

    Steven, good luck to your daughter in first grade!

    Jone: Very nearly nothing beats some good swinging. Those pinecones are a good idea. Might have to try that.

    Moira: Did your kicks get cut off? And, yes, that Waldo cartoon is so funny in about a million different directions.

    Susan, just the other day I was asked to read soon to some third graders, and I thought I’d like to read them this book. I don’t know if I can get through it without crying. Which is fine. Except I HATE crying in front of people. But it’s too good to pass up, and I might have to read it anyway.

    LW: Your last kick is rather brilliant.

  10. Steven: Your poetry is magical.
    Jone: I hope your travels with Doxie last for years and years.
    Moira: Laughing on a crowded beach is good.
    Susan: I love all the grades with their little quirks.
    Little Willow: I like Leverage too.
    Jules: Yes, my Ivan essay. It just poured from my heart to the page.

  11. Margie: It’s wonderful.

  12. I’m back from Orcas Island! This was our last little excursion before third grade begins tomorrow for my not-so-little girl. I’m glad to celebrate kicks with all of you. Here are a few of mine:

    1. On Orcas Island, my family watched the bright, fast light of the International Space Station travel across the sky.

    2. I came home to find presents from my friend who had visited Boston for two weeks: a Boston shaker (half glass, half metal), and Bitterman’s “Boston Bittahs.”

    3. I had the massage of a lifetime. Really, I should have monthly massages (really!), but the last one I had was over three years ago. This massage targeted the hard, hurty spots.

    4. Imagine: How Creativity Works, by Jonah Lehrer, reminds me once again how important daydreaming is for creative thought.

    5. My daughter said, “Lord Voldemort can’t wear pince-nez because he’s got a little bit of a nose problem.”

    6. Butterfinger-flavored gelato

    7. The goodwill of other people

  13. Ok… is it just me or is my family going to have to eat a lot of pasta this fall? There seem to be about a gazzilion books coming out this fall that I HAVE to have.

  14. I am so in love with both Jacquelin Woodson and E.B.Lewis that I can’t wait to hold this book. What a dream team.

    Jules, I love your kicks. I read Carol Shield’s The Stone Diaries several years ago and am still haunted by some of the imagery in that book. Amazing.
    I tried to get a copy of Judith Viorst’s Lulu Walks the Dog after seeing it on FB…but didn’t realize it’s probably not out yet.

    My kicks:
    1) Just got the new The Mary Blair Golden Book Treasury book YESTERDAY and love it so much I’m dragging it along with me like a blankie…so delightful and I didn’t realize how much I’ve been influenced by her.
    2)Homemade pizza last night. Girls made their own personal pizzas. Fun and yummy
    3) Just read YA novel Wonder in tandem with my 12 yr. old daughter. Wow…
    4) Anticipation of the illustrator intensive coming up this Friday in Atlanta where I’ll get to meet Peter Brown and hear him speak. And hopefully get a signed Creepy Carrots.

    Emmaco: I’ve never heard of guerilla gardening…or maybe I should say I never knew there was a name for it. I think Miss Rumphius would be satisfied.
    Margie: Hugs to your dog from me and so happy for the news.
    Steven: First grade! I love this year and age.
    Jone: Sounds like a dreamy time with grandgirl.
    Little Willow: I love hearing about *surviving transitions* YAY.
    Saints: Butterfinger-flavored gelato? Yes please.
    Stacey: Yes…pasta or beans!

    Thanks Jules.

  15. Doh! Cut off kicks, I hate when that happens.
    So anyways…
    Jules- kick #2 can be better than coffee to get you through the day.
    emmaco- I have some volunteer pumpkins that have stayed alive thanks to the water from the dehumidifier.
    Margie- Good for you writing from your heart.
    Steven- I was watching the bunnies the other night braving the hawk filled skies.
    Jone- My favorite line from that Alice movie is when the Queen says, “Hello Um”.
    L.W.-#7 Keep your eye on the prize.
    S&S- Butterfinger gelato?!
    Stacey- We are on the all carb. diet over here. Pasta, pasta, pasta
    Lori- Illo intensive! Yay! (jealous)
    Ok lets see if these kicks will post
    1. My brother and SIL came to town which means I got to visit with all of my siblings this summer.
    2. My daughter’s hand drawn comics rule.
    3. My son has me interview him about his day. “Ask me more questions.” he says.
    4.Sundae School Ice Cream
    5. Good people doing the right thing
    6.Swam in Nantucket Sound and Cape Cod Bay (Google Map it) this week. Proof that it is still Summer.
    7. One of my paintings wound up in a local magazine paired with an excerpt from Sara Pennypacker’s new book.
    I am going to have to write a blog post explaining #7

    Have a great week everyone. I hope you sell a painting. That’s what I’m hoping for anyways.

  16. Farida: Third grade tomorrow? Wow, I thought that’d start later. Good luck to her! I have a particular fondness for your last three kicks, and when I tell my girls about kick #5, they’re gonna crack up.

    Stacey: I KNOW!

    Lori: I got the Mary Blair book, too. Wonderful. Hope to post about it soon. Also, I’ll be meeting Peter Brown this Tuesday, too, and I’m looking forward to that. How was Wonder? Did you like it?

  17. Moira: Posting at the same time. I waved to you in cyberspace, while passing.

    I am stunned at kick #3. I can’t get ANYthing about her day out of my 8-year-old and even sometimes the 6-year-old, though she’s a bit easier. … Congrats on #7. So cool!

  18. What a great book–and a splendid review, Jules. I have clicked to pre-order the book on Amazon. I do teach middle school, and I do plan on reading this with my classes. It will be an awesome companion to Ray Bradbury’s short story, “All Summer in a Day.” Thanks for the recommendation!

  19. kick #1: you saying that you like my painting 🙂 , was sunshine on a boo week.
    2. it is great to make a nice painting but mystifying to totally lose every bit of ability on the next three. So when an nice painting comes around again it is especially nice to find what you thought you lost.
    3. my 11 year old’s best friend moved away and he started middle school all this weekend. But through tears and fears I managed to say what might have been the right words to help him.
    4. buttermilk pancakes.
    5. maybe the best coffee i have ever made myself.
    6. a fresh tomato
    7. my birthday is this week, which is on a full moon and a blue moon. i can already smell the full moon fever and the moonshine.

  20. Hi, Ellen. What a great story to pair it with! I love that story and remember it haunting me when I was a child… Like I said, soon after I read this one, I read David Ezra Stein’s Because Amelia Smiled, and I also think it’d be great to pair with this.

    Amy, happy early birthday! And good luck to your 11-year-old. Dang. A best friend moving away is hard.

  21. Jules: 🙂 Thank you.

    Margie: High-five! Parker is my favorite character, but all five are brilliant characters (writing, backstory, story arcs) and have been brought to life by such wonderful actors.

    Farida: Welcome home. I’m glad that your family enjoyed your trip. Best of luck to your daughter on her new school year. Thumbs-up for her insight on Voldesnort (that’s Voldemort’s nose, or lack thereof!)

    Stacey: Re: Eating lots of pasta: You say that like it’s a bad thing. 🙂

    Lori: How cool, that you and your daughter read a book simultaneously! Which Wonder was it? I fancy Wonder by Rachel Vail. Have fun at the event this Friday. Thanks re: transitions.

    Moira: Focus is key. That, and determination. I’m a self-starter. If your daughter is an illustrator/comic artist-writer, you two should check out the graphic novel Smile by Raina Telgemeier, if you haven’t already, and her new GN Drama, due out September 1st!

    Amy: Happy early birthday! Comfort to your son. I hope they stay in touch, and I hope he has a good start to the new school year. May I have a pancake, please?

    Everyone: If you haven’t already – some mentioned it already – wink at the moon tonight for Neil Armstrong.

  22. Voldesnort!

  23. Oh… that book is a Getter and a Keeper. The people in involved in its creation are both Good People. The last page made me a little sad… but wow – reality.

  24. Lori, I had to go look up Miss Rumphius – sounds like a lovely story!

    I love looking up places people mention in their kicks. I already knew where Cape Cod was due to the many books set there, but Orcas Island was new to me (though I guessed it was near the NW due to Orcas living there). It sounds like a delightful place for a holiday, Farida!

    Has anyone else noticed how many times we all mention food? I like to think this means we are in touch with the small pleasures in life rather than indicating that we are greedy 🙂

  25. Tanita: Indeed. That is exactly what it is.

    Emmaco: Yes, what you said. The small kicks are what it’s all about, when it comes right down to it.

  26. 1. Was at a cabin this past week with family and friends. Felt like I stole one extra week of summer.

    2. Returned home to mums, leaves changing (I live waaayyy up north), pumpkin and spice lattes and such at the coffee shop, and the kids’ teacher assignments — a bittersweet, sudden transition from summer to fall.

    3. My 7-year-old son just read the first Harry Potter book in one day and loved it. Let the madness begin!

    4. Same son is all into using the same things as he did last year for school. The same backpack, same art shirt, same gym shoes, same haircut… etc. It seems so mature and environmentalist-y of him.

    5. Potluck with my running group at a cabin.

    6. A good cup of coffee and my kids sleeping in this morning.

    7. I have my plane ticket for the Kidlitosphere Conference in September!

  27. Little Willow: Wonder is by R.J. Palicio. Wonderful book!
    Emmaco: Barbara Cooney is one of my all-time favorite illustrators and author of Miss Rumphius. I fell in love with her illustrations when I read The Ox Cart Man by Donald Hall and have had a crush on her ever since. And yes…food = small pleasures!!

  28. Each Kindness looks so good (and needed).
    Lori, thanks for the Barbara Cooney reminder. Her Chanticleer is one of my favorite books.

  29. I have to see Each Kindness.

  30. Amy: Your kicks got lost in there, seeing as how spam tried to eat them for breakfast. … I hope your son enjoys the rest of the Harry Potter series, and good luck to him with this school year. And you already have leaves changing? Whoa.

  31. […] Third Annual Picture Book Panel, which I moderated in early November, with Jason Chin, Jacqueline Woodson, Christopher Myers, John Parra, and Chris Soentpiet. The bookstore has posted a video link to the […]

  32. […] The August 26 post on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast features E.B. Lewis’ stunning illus… for Jacqueline Woodson’s picture book on children’s cruelty,  Each […]

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