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The Picture Book Buzz

Finding Kindness - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

It is amazing how much a simple action - like a smile, holding a door for someone, or letting them go ahead of you in the grocery line (especially when they have fewer items than you) - can change someone's day. Every day, we have the opportunity to make a difference in another person's life. A difference that might seem minor to us, but monumental to someone else or the planet. One which we should endeavor to make every day.

My #PPBF post this week focuses on Finding Kindness in our lives and spreading it to others.

Finding Kindness

Author: Deborah Underwod

Illustrator: Irene Chan

Publisher: Henry Holt & Company (2019)

Ages: 4 - 8



Kindness, empathy, compassion, and generosity.


From New York Times-bestselling author Deborah Underwood comes Finding Kindness, a heartfelt picture book illustrated by Irene Chan.

Celebrate kindness in all its many forms. This is a powerful story of community, compassion, and generosity of spirit—perfect for sharing!

Kindness is sometimes a cup and a card, or a ladder, a truck, and a tree. A scritch and a cuddle. A rake and a yard.

Opening Lines:

Kindness is sometimes a cup and a card

or a ladder, a truck, and a tree;

a scritch and a cuddle,

a rake and a yard

Why I liked the book:

Deborah and Irene have created a tender, circular concept book on kindness. Where sometimes, all one needs is a cup and card to show compassion for another living being.

Text © Deborah Underwood, 2019 . Image © Irene Chan, 2019.

As the girl releases a ladybug out her window, she sees a fireman showing kindness with "a ladder, a truck, and at tree, "rescuing another girl's cat. They in turn see a boy raking an elderly neighbor's yard and getting a cookie in gratitude. Interpreting Deborah's sparse, concise text, Irene carries the reader on a journey through a child's town demonstrating how everyone can show kindness, empathy, and compassion in big and little actions throughout their day.

Deborah's gently rhyming text shows both small gestures (returning a dropped key, holding open door, or waiting for ducks to cross the road) and large gestures (planting trees in the park, adopting "the animals others ignore," or helping build a house) of kindness.

Text © Deborah Underwood, 2019 . Image © Irene Chan, 2019.

In addition, to all the things one can do for others, kindness is shown by exercising compassion for yourself when you're sad, or mad, or make a mistake. By making an effort to forgive yourself.

Text © Deborah Underwood, 2019 . Image © Irene Chan, 2019.

Irene's bright, bold illustrations feature diversity in race, age, ethnicity, and ability. She also creatively uses "speech" bubbles with images, instead of words. Here the text says, "a key," and the speech bubble explains with the images of a door, dropped keys, and a newspaper that the gentleman is chasing down the paperboy to return his keys. I have not seen this before in a picture book and I find it quite fascinating. There are a number of treasures and interconnections between the illustrations as they loop through the town. Watch out for cameos of the blue balloon (from the cover) and the younger sister.

I love that Deborah asks the reader to focus on instances of kindness toward animals and nature, in addition to other humans. This book provides the opportunity to discuss some deeper social issues behind the images of building houses (habitat for humanity), seeing ones that "others ignore" (both animals and homeless), the elderly, and environmental stewardship/climate change. Overall, this is a magnificent book with a positive message of community and kindness to others, ourselves, and our world. One that would be beneficial in classrooms and for our society as a whole.


- do some of the exercises in the Finding Kindness Activity Guide (;

- write a list, or draw a picture(s), of acts of kindness you can do for someone in your family, neighborhood, school, and/or sports/academic team;

- create a kindness bingo/calendar and see if you can color in each square (; or

- read Be Kind by Pat Zeitlow Miller and The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig, Do they show the same or different examples of kindness? Why?

If you missed Deborah Underwood's interview on Monday, find it (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

**As an extra treat - here's a quick review of Deborah Underwood's other newest picture book READING BEAUTY (released 9/24/2019):

Reading Beauty

Author: Deborah Underwood

Illustrator: Meg Hunt

Publisher: Chronicle Books (2019)

Ages: 3-5


As a fractured fairy tale, this book is as unique as its "sister" book Interstellar Cinderella.

Deborah's dream of tackling the Big Three princesses—Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella—and "giving parents and kids alternatives to the passive princesses of the past," has definitely been achieved.

Like most of Deborah's books, this group of fractured fairy tales also focuses on encouraging "empathy and trying to see another’s point of view." Creating empowered girls who take matters into their own hands.

Also set in space, this book turns the helpless princess rescued by a prince tradition on its head.

Princess Lex loves to read, with the help of her puppy, Prince. However, on her fifteenth birthday, due to a fairy's curse that she would get a paper cut and fall into a "death-like sleep," her parents hid all the kingdom's books. As darkness and gloom spread throughout her world, she decides to confront the fairy and make her reverse the curse.

Using books - held by a bot - she learns to fly, track a fairy, and create an herbicide. As a last-ditch effort, the fairy tries to entice Lex with a poisoned BOOK, entitled "How to Lift a Curse." I won't give away the ending but suffice it to say the Lex proves to be a smart, strong, and sneaky princess, with a pretty special puppy friend.

This (and Interstellar Cinderella) is a great mentor text for fracturing fairy tales, the use of unexpected words in rhyming texts (miffed & herbicide), and weaving empathy and kindness organically into a story. I love how Deborah made reading the central thread of this updated tale. It is a great read which combines a fantastical interstellar setting with a fun bent on princesses. And, if you enjoyed these books, be sure to keep your eyes out for Snow Bright and the Seven Bots.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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