cover image Be Kind

Be Kind

Pat Zietlow Miller, illus. by Jen Hill. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-62672-321-4

A child contemplates the nature of kindness and how it can spread in this lovely exploration of empathy and thoughtfulness. “Tanisha spilled grape juice yesterday,” the young narrator begins. “All over her new dress.” Their classmates laugh, Tanisha flees the room, and the narrator’s efforts to comfort her (“Purple is my favorite color”) fall flat. Hill (Spring for Sophie) creates a gender-neutral narrator—a shaggy-haired child in an oversize purple football jersey—who goes on to debate methods of kindness, how tricky it can be, and how far a chain of generous actions might go: “all the way... around the world. Right back to Tanisha and me.” The child says that “Mom always tells me to be kind,” and Miller lets the student parse what that means without adult intervention; the child’s musings (“Maybe it’s giving.... Maybe it’s helping”) let readers do their own reflecting. A spirit of diversity, global and at the community level, pervades Hill’s images, a visual reminder of the importance of kindness regardless of perceived otherness. Ages 3–6. Author’s agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Anne Moore Armstrong, Bright Group. (Feb.)