by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by E. B. Lewis
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012
Ages 5-8, Grades K – 3
Jane Addams Children’s Book Award * Coretta Scott King Honor Book * Charlotte Zolotow Award * School Library Journal Best Book of 2012 * Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award
Each Kindness is a story of growth and regret told from the perspective of Chloe, a young girl who refuses to accept small gestures of friendship from Maya, the new girl at school.
Maya wears spring shoes in the snow and plays alone, snubbed by classmates who laugh and name her “Never New” for her hand-me-down wardrobe. Yet she continually reaches out, extending a glance, a smile, some jacks, a ball–ever optimistic that one day her affection will be returned. It never is. Chloe and her classmates turn their backs and refuse to smile at Maya.
One day, when Maya is absent from school, their teacher gives a lesson in compassion. She drops a small stone into a bowl of water, observes the ripples, and says, “This is what kindness does. Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.”
Chloe is moved and resolves to be kind and make the world better by simply returning Maya’s smile. But her realization comes too late, and Chloe’s left to grapple with the sting of kindnesses withheld.
by Ruth Behar
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2017
Middle grade, fiction
Ages: 10-13, Grades 5-8
A heartfelt story of hope and healing
Rich in detail, heart, and imagination, Lucky Broken Girl follows Ruthie Mizrahi, a Jewish Cuban immigrant in 1960s New York, as she struggles to navigate family tensions, forge friendships, and work her way out of the “dumb class” at school.
When an accident confines Ruthie to her room, her whole family reels. Baba blames herself. Mami resents the caretaking load. Papi works three jobs to pay her medical bills. Meanwhile, Ruthie’s left to stare at the ceiling and read Nancy Drew, Alice in Wonderland, and the poems of Emily Dickinson and José Martí to pass the time.
Up to her waist in a body cast, Ruthie battles shame, helplessness, and isolation to make a comeback. The ice-cold steel of her bedpan and the seemingly endless stretch of days on her wall calendar mark the time and distance to recovery. An unlikely cast of characters—including a hippie tutor, a tough nurse, and a buoyant neighbor—emerges to help her tap into the creativity, compassion, and perspective she needs to persevere. With a paintbrush and Royal typewriter in hand, Ruthie begins to write—and illustrate—a beautiful new chapter in her life.
Based on the author’s own childhood experience, Lucky Broken Girl explores trauma with a deft, forgiving touch.
“This story is etched into my physiology, my nerves and my many fears,” Behar writes. It’s a triumph that the author released the pain in the form of one poignant, charming novel.