This year’s 2011 Caldecott went to a sweet, whimsical story of kindness. Amos McGee works at the zoo and sets aside time each day for the animals; he would play chess with the elephant, run races with the tortoise, sit with the shy penguin, lend a handkerchief to the rhino, and read to the owl. Then one day Amos gets sick and stays in bed. The lonely animals decide to take action; that afternoon they make their way to Amos’s home. Throughout the book, Erin Stead’s pencil and woodblock illustrations sprinkle humorous details guaranteed to make readers smile. My favorite is the double spread showing the animals riding the bus, while others will be charmed by the last illustration, showing the quiet penguin gazing at the moon while the others snooze away after a busy afternoon taking care of their friend.
Looking for more kindness? For ages 4-7, try last year’s Caldecott winner, The Lion and the Mouse, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, and, for Valentine’s Day, reach for Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, by Eileen Spinelli. For older children, consider Tale of the Mandarin Ducks by Katherine Paterson and the Cinderella variations that focus on the protagonist’s kindness: The Talking Eggs by Robert San Souci, Papa Gatto by Ruth Sanderson, and Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella Story by Judy Sierra. Also, see my December 27th post on being kind to animals.
What are your favorite children’s books featuring kindness? Please leave a comment!