A creative story teaches children ways to be kind.

THE KINDNESS MACHINE

A second grade teacher uses an invented machine to teach students about kindness in a picture book by author Christina Dankert and illustrator Chad Dankert.

Cora is confused when Mr. Wilson asks the class if anybody has a superpower. “What if I told you that ALL of you have a superpower?” he asks. Mr. Wilson then unveils the latest of his “extraordinary inventions”: the Kindness Machine, a contraption with levers, buttons, springs, and a screen at the top. When a button is pressed, the screen shows “an example of how to practice kindness.” Mr. Wilson helpfully elaborates. For instance, when the screen reads “LOVE YOURSELF,” he explains that while it’s “important to be kind to others,” self-compassion is vital, too. “If you make a mistake, tell yourself that it’s okay,” he says. When Cora presses a button, the screen reads, “BE A CHEF.” Mr. Wilson says: “Kindness is like baking a cake. The ideas from the Kindness Machine are your ingredients….The real magic happens when you combine them.” The students acknowledge that kindness involves superpowerlike actions, and the next time Mr. Wilson asks if anybody has a superpower, everyone raises a hand. Mr. Wilson’s examples of kindness are practical and easy to apply, such as offering smiles and compliments. Christina Dankert, a second grade teacher, writes from experience, and Chad Dankert gives his digitized full-color pictures a fun, cartoonlike quality. Cora has dark skin and interacts with classmates who have diverse skin tones, and a helpful list of discussion questions encourages children to think further about what they’ve read.

A creative story teaches children ways to be kind.

Pub Date: March 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-955119-08-5

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Purple Butterfly Press

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2022

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A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.

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WONDER

After being home-schooled for years, Auggie Pullman is about to start fifth grade, but he’s worried: How will he fit into middle school life when he looks so different from everyone else?

Auggie has had 27 surgeries to correct facial anomalies he was born with, but he still has a face that has earned him such cruel nicknames as Freak, Freddy Krueger, Gross-out and Lizard face. Though “his features look like they’ve been melted, like the drippings on a candle” and he’s used to people averting their eyes when they see him, he’s an engaging boy who feels pretty ordinary inside. He’s smart, funny, kind and brave, but his father says that having Auggie attend Beecher Prep would be like sending “a lamb to the slaughter.” Palacio divides the novel into eight parts, interspersing Auggie’s first-person narrative with the voices of family members and classmates, wisely expanding the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie’s arrival at school doesn’t test only him, it affects everyone in the community. Auggie may be finding his place in the world, but that world must find a way to make room for him, too.

A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86902-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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A sweet reminder that love is best measured in actions.

TINY T. REX AND THE PERFECT VALENTINE

Even when well-intended plans go awry, sometimes “I love you” is plastered all over one’s face.

Tiny T. Rex wants to make the perfect valentine for friend Pointy, a stegosaurus. It’s a noble ideal, but perfection is more elusive than the little theropod realized. That’s the premise of this charming board book that succinctly celebrates love, friendship, aspiration, perseverance, limitations, and the notion that it’s the thought that counts—especially when it’s clearly reflected in effort. Like its protagonist, this book is small, but it’s rich in value and works on every level. The artwork has an elegant simplicity that beautifully balances color, personality, and clever detail. A panel of Tiny designing the card in chalk on a blackboard, for example, reveals the scale of the little dino’s intentions: a giant heart, ribbons, smaller hearts dangling from springs, heart-shaped balloons, and fireworks, all much larger than Tiny. The project is clearly a labor of love: Tiny sweats, tugging a bucket of paint—“Pointy’s favorite color!”—but the bucket spills on the artist, not the valentine. Trying to make the card “extra fancy,” Tiny is covered in glitter. Tiny rips, snips, and rerips, trying to make the perfect heart; misspells Pointy; and glues springs and hearts all over everything. When Tiny apologizes for having no valentine for Pointy, Pointy recognizes immediately that the perfect valentine is a friend like Tiny.

A sweet reminder that love is best measured in actions. (Board book. 1-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-8489-0

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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