Kindness is the word of the day. Or, at least, the word of the review.
Sophie wants to give a gift for her grandfather. He says he does not want anything, but when she insists, he asks her to perform a good work and change the world (a mitzvah). She does not know how she can change the world. She is just a kid and not able to do big things. But when she tells her grandfather of the acts she did while trying to figure out what to do, he tells her that she has changed the world with her little acts of kindness to her friends, family, and others. Can Sophie Change the World? Yes, she can. And you can read Nancy Elizabeth Wallace’s book to see how she does all those wonderful things. And you can enjoy this story with the addition of the illustrations by Aura Lewis. These images are bright, but not overly bold, and sweet. They fit the tone of the book perfectly.
As Sophie told us, A Small Kindness can do big things. And in Stacy McAnulty’s picture book, we see how one child does a small kindness for a classmate when they need a little pick-me-up. Then that person turns around and tags the next person with a kindness. By the end of the day each student has had an act done to them and by them, even the teacher and janitor get in on the fun. These acts range from including someone in play to encouraging them when something difficult is being done. The lack of color shows when someone might need an act of kindness, then the full color blooms from the illustrations of Wendy Leach to show how kindness can make things bright. Kindness can spread and make big things happen, no matter how small they start.
The biggest part of Hundred Feet Tall is the illustrations of Jemima Williams. Now, the story Benjamin Scheuer created is sweet and has a powerful message, but you must read the illustrations as well. When a rabbit cares for a seed they brought home from the country to the city, the growth of it not only inspires the rabbit to dream of being “a hundred feet tall” in the branches of the tree but inspires them to help their neighborhood. And here is the where the art comes into play. You see the drab city street, the old buildings, and the lack of caring by the people who live there. But when one spark of hope, a seed too large for its jar, is planted, everyone is inspired to be kind to themselves and others and the scene we came to know, changes radically in a wonderful way.