Each Kindness is a realist’s picture book whose lack of happy ending encourages reflection. The illustrations by E.B Lewis perfectly accompany Woodson’s stark story of how Chloe treats the new girl Maya with a mean disdain. Instead of naming it bullying or focusing on blame, Woodson draws our attention to a young perpetrator’s ripples of sorrowful regret for opportunities she missed. Her teacher Ms Albert has the children drop a stone into a bowl of water to demonstrate the rippling effect of kindness. Since the powerful ritual comes after Maya has moved away, the change it produces in Chloe cannot be experienced by Maya, but will perhaps, ripple out to another new girl, another time.
One illustration is particularly moving, a spread of four children’s faces reflected in the bowl of water, with the kindness stone at the center. In this unique picture book, young Chloe looks deeply into herself and comes to an awareness that is the precursor to genuine change.
New York: Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin, 2012
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She has many names, the woman who appeared on the hill in Tepeyac in 1531, and spoke in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs. At that same site, she was worshipped as Tonantzin, Venerable Mother, by the much earlier ancestors of the indigenous man to whom she appeared. Among other names, the Virgin of Guadalupe is also lovingly called La Morena, Empress of the Americas, Queen of Mexico, and Our Lady of Tepeyac.
Some say that, as a virgin, a woman belonging only to herself, La Morena reflects the blessing of moonlight to women everywhere. Some say that this Goddess Tonantzin, who painted her self-portrait on Juan Diego’s cloak, is the Matron Saint of Artists. Many attest that she can help anyone, especially those who have been unable to find help anywhere else.
For the sake of the world, call on her magnificent compassion today on her feast day. Call on her as the great alignment comes to completion. Ask her help to create a planetary shift, ask her to help humanity jump the synapse from here — our current breakdowns, to there — our future of amazing possibilities.
A Short History of Tonantzin: http://yeoldeconsciousnessshoppe.com/art261.html
SOONCHILD, authored by Russell Hoban and illustrated by Alexis Deacon, is classified in my library as YA (young adult fiction), but here is that mysterious thing, a book to read to a child until she can read it for herself as well as a book that child can understand both differently and completely each time she rereads it at a new stage of her life– a book for all ages.
John the shaman/shamed man has gotten lax, but when the world (wearing the face of the daughter in his wife’s womb) needs him, John enlists Raven and journeys to find the World Songs his daughter demands. And what a rollicking, flawed travelogue the reader gets to witness! Russell Hoban is a master of “the strangeness and silence underneath everything,” which, in this tale, he names Ukpika. The illustrations of Alexis Deacon are as genius as Hoban’s tale itself. Not only is SOONCHILD a roaringly magnificent read, but the jump John must make to find the World Songs happens to be the very jump each of us alive at this time on the planet is being asked to make.
I’m truly sorry that Russell Hoban’s mystical gladness has left this plane (1925-2011), but SOONCHILD seems a fitting last imagining from such a uniquely magical and hilariously comedic author.
We are perhaps the first species to become conscious of our own evolution, aware that we can destroy ourselves, or, make the quantum leap to evolve into a cooperative species. What futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard calls December 22, 2012 is Birth2012. Her documentary film, Visions of a Universal Humanity, inspires me to offer my personal gift to the great Shift, which is a poet’s imagination. I can imagine the pattern of the new cocreative society, I can hold a vision of how it is when all the global sectors and communities work together.
This moment in humanity’s role in the cosmic story is as significant a leap as when single cells joined, a jump across a gap that was not only possible but demanded. This optimistic view of a future of infinite possibilities is actually natural, reasonable, and obvious. Not an incremental movement but a leap to a new kind of species. Barbara asks each of us to determine what our task might be, to find our deepest experience of self and to participate in the shift by contributing that experience.
From inside the womb, the perspective is grim. The cataclysm comes, there is an explosion, an opening into fierce light appears, and then the life form disappears into a different world and all seems lost. Or is it. From outside the womb, the perspective is jubilant — the receiving of new life, a glorious beginning celebrated by beings in a larger world.
We will soon be out of time, and this is a good thing. Time can begin anew and we can reframe everything, including time. Soon now, time transforms into an evolutionary leap to create more conscious life. What a magnificent time to be alive.