Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodsen

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.13588082

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


Tonantzin, Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin

art by Ana Maria Vasquez available from

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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 by Russell Hoban

SoonchildSOONCHILD, 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.