Kidlit Review: When We Are Kind by: Monique Gray Smith and Nicole Neidhardt (illustrator)

Published by Orca Book Publishers 

I wanted to kick off Bookilu with positivity and joy. Even with a theme like Uproar, I think its fitting to focus on the most radical things we can do as humans when the bottom falls out from under us. Slow down. Take a breath. And, be kind. Enter the perfect picture book for a pandemic year.

Monique Gray Smith’s When We Are Kind reads as a soothing balm. Simple syntax and repetitive messaging floats from the page as a meditation. Smith covers themes of kindness, community, environmentalism, eldercare, and self-care with the grace we need in a time of pandemic, social and political upheaval, and climate crisis. These themes are tough to discuss with young children but Smith uses simple statements like “I am kind when I only take from the earth what I need,” to cover these themes with depth, and authenticity.

Say it with me, “I feel respected when I am kind to myself.” Smith gives parents, caregivers, and educators the simple words we need to share calm kindness with our little readers. I have not yet read a picture book that so concisely embodies the values of community care that I endeavour to instill in my own child.

Smith’s words are adeptly illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt. Neidhardt creates calming imagery to complement each message of community, family, environment, and self. The cover page features a group sitting in a circle surrounded by flowers made up of smaller circles. The subtle symbol of repeating circles demonstrates the care with which this artwork was formed.

I highly recommend this picture book to any parent, grandparent, caregiver, educator, family member, or friend of a small child. Further, I recommend this book even to adults as a meditative reminder of what matters when the mind gets lost in the chaos of Uproar.

Review by: Candice Suchocki Weir

Buy the book! (not sponsored)