A FLOOD OF KINDNESS
I’m sitting wrapped warm, fluffy woolly socks on my feet on a cool autumn evening and this beautiful book on my lap, having arrived in the post, listening to the hum of soft rain outside and my mind drifts back to 2017 like it was yesterday. I was watching the devastating news unfold on the television of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction thousands of miles away in the USA and wondered how a dear writing friend was coping and whether she had survived the devastation. You see Ellen and I had been chatting on the internet a few weeks before Hurricane Harvey avenged it’s anger on Houston,. She and her husband were soon to holiday on a cruise ship bound for New Zealand. I was so looking forward to meeting a fellow writer all the way from the USA and I made mental notes on some places and attractions she might like to see in the short time they would be here. I was soon to hear Ellen had lost everything and the trip of course was cancelled. As the days and weeks and months passed Ellen would keep us updated (thank-goodness for internet) and although her words were strong, calm and optimistic, I wondered how anyone could have coped in such a situation. Ellen’s own experience, and the kindness of others is brought to us through the eyes of young Charlotte in this emotionally charged story and demonstrates Ellen’s skill as a writer and story-teller for young children.
Written by: Ellen Leventhal
Illustrated by: Blythe Russo
Published by: Worthy Kids Hachette Book Group USA 2021
Ages: 4 – 8 years
Theme: empathy, hope, and empowerment.
Opening Lines: The night the river jumped its banks, everything changed.
Synopsis: from Amazon:- A Flood of Kindness, is a poignant picture book that addresses grief and loss and demonstrates how kindness can bring hope. Written in spare prose and told from an intimate first-person point of view, the story follows Charlotte, a young girl who watches floodwaters rise in her home and is forced to evacuate to a shelter with her parents. Kind people she doesn’t know give her food, socks and shoes to keep her feet warm, and a place to sleep. As Charlotte adjusts to the shelter—a strange, crowded place that is not home—she grapples with feelings of anger and sadness. But as the days go by, Charlotte starts to realize how grateful she is for the things that she does have—her parents, a cot to sleep on, food to eat—and starts looking for ways to help others in the shelter.
All children deal with sadness and loss in some way, whether it stems from a natural disaster, the death of a pet, or moving to a new place. A Flood of Kindness acknowledges those difficult feelings and helps readers process them in a healthy way. Children will be encouraged to be kind to those who need a friend and to help others in whatever way they can, no matter how small.
Why I like this: Ellen’s lyrical and sparse prose grips us from the first page and the story is dotted with timely page turns and a clever refrain that keeps the reader infested. Blythe’s beautiful hue colored illustrations with expressive facial expressions of despair and the cool greys of the weather gives depth. This book is a timely reminder we all should think of the needs of others and is an excellent read aloud for children, families, and schools to help build empathy, kindness, and community. It’s about paying it forward and shows how no one is too small or too young to help out. I recommend having a tissue or two handy when reading this beautiful story.
Resources: Ellen Leventhal has been writing for as long as she can remember. She is the co-author of Don’t Eat the Bluebonnets, a 2017 Mighty Girls Book pick, and the author of Lola Can’t Leap. Ellen is an active member of SCBWI, as well as a member of Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Challenge. She lives in Houston, Texas, where she can be found working as an educator, wandering the aisles of bookstores, and doing school author visits.
Ellen’s website… https://www.ellenleventhal.com/
Blythe Russo holds a masters in illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design. When she’s not drawing, you can find her building puppets, playing Dungeons & Dragons, or in the kitchen on a never-ending quest for the perfect chocolate-chip cookie recipe. She lives just outside Cincinnati, Ohio.
Blythe’s website… https://www.blytherussoillustration.com/
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