cover image Each Kindness

Each Kindness

Jacqueline Woodson, illus. by E.B. Lewis. Penguin/Paulsen, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-24652-4

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.)