We tell children to be kind, but do they know what that means? Janet Halfmann's new picture book for ages 3-7 and released by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books/Quarto this week, shows the way! A hint is in the subtitle "Wisdom from the Animal Kingdom." As she has in other books, Janet turns to nature to find the answer to her title question. She says, "I was inspired to write this story to add positive ways to look at the world. Since nature can be so calming and restoring, I spotlighted the positive ways animals react to one another as examples for all of us to follow."
The book features caring European badgers, welcoming capybaras, sharing jackdaws, teamworking ants and bees, patient African elephants, selfless prairie dogs, laughing orangutans, encouraging blue manakins, and other animals and their traits. interspersed with the refrain, "How can we be kind?". Through the words and friendly, accurate animal drawings by Darla Okada, children will see the many ways they, too, can be kind.
Readers of all ages can learn more about the animals in this book, some of which are not usually found in books for the very young. Okada bookends the text with spot drawings of diverse humans showing kindness. Backmatter uses text and animal photographs to give more information.
Janet's approach is fun and effective. I can imagine sharing it with children and referring to it with them later, reminding them to be like a zebra and stick up for their friends, for instance. Thank you, Janet, for showing us that being like an animal can be a good thing!