On a quiet, cold, snowy and muted winter morning the classroom door opens and the principal enters holding the hand of Maya, the new girl. 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." Maya is looking down. She can't face being that new girl. But when she sits down in the empty seat, she turns and smiles at the girl across the aisle. Maya will offer her friendship in many small ways as the days go by. But no one will reach back.
Then, the morning comes when Maya's seat is empty. It just so happens that Ms. Albert, the teacher, has chosen kindness as the topic for the day. Heavy with tenderness and sorrow, kindness takes center stage. Each one of us stands alone capable of making all the difference in someone's world with our ability to be kind. We create ripples as we walk in the world. Every step we take, every direction we choose, every gesture or failure to reach out, defines and constructs the world we live in.
This is a story about the girl who did not reach out. Now that the desk is empty and now that her teacher has opened her mind and her heart to the power of kindness and the power of one person, well... now how does she feel? Now, what does she see? What will she do the next time she has that magical, astonishing opportunity to be the one who turns with a smile and welcomes with kindness?
I just think this duo of Woodson and Lewis packs a wallop because they are amazingly sensitive, intuitive human beings who have incredible abilities to write and draw the intangible things in our world...in our children's world... and they express them with depth and breadth of feeling that others cannot aspire to. So, I'm finally done blowing my nose and thought I'd send this right out to you all while I was still in the trance of this keen, perceptive, penetrating story.
Ages 6-10 978-0399246524
Recommended by: Barb