Hello! A Counting Book of Kindnesses

by | Jan 23, 2021 | Book Review, Fiction, Picture Book

Hello! A Counting Book of Kindnesses cover

Book Details

Hello! A Counting Book of Kindnesses
Hollis Kurman, illus. Barroux. Burley Gate Hereford: Otter-Barry Books, hb 978 1 9130 7499 9, 2020, £11.99, 32pp.
Picture book, fiction, 3-8 years

What if you have had to run away from your home and country? It has become too scary to stay. What might help you feel better? Let’s count the good things – those little moments of kindness that will carry you through the times of difficulty.

They don’t have to be big things – the hands that help, the beds that cradle you at night, books to share, pictures on a wall saying welcome.

Many books detailing the refugee experience emphasise the horror, the fear, the feelings of isolation – all important to record. Here, Kurman has chosen a different route, inviting her readers to think about some of the positive moments. This is not to create a Pollyanna atmosphere. Rather it offers another way of thinking and by focussing on kindness which involves a two-way relationship, she encourages a young audience who may not have experienced the traumas of a refugee situation to think about this and what constitutes a kind action. Her final question is “How many ways can you think of to be kind?”

It is an unusual picture book. It does not appear to have a story, but as the numbers move up the story is there to be supplied by the reader. This is a book to share to open discussion whether in a classroom or home. It could also provide a quiet door for reflection as Barroux’s exceptional illustrations draw one in. “Inclusive” and “empathy” are frequently used in describing picture books. Here rightly so. Barroux presents us with a family – a family we can recognise, experiencing moments we can experience. Through saturated colours and expansive double-page spreads, the artist takes the reader on a journey from the home burning behind his little family to the green of the football pitch and the fellowship of a team. Here the emotional journey is mirrored in the visual journey, while the endpapers decorated with impressionistic circles remind us that friendship is inclusive.

Review by FMH