Something Good by Marcy Campbell, illustrated by Corinna Luyken (9780759557420)
When a “bad-something” is found written on the wall in the girls’ restroom at school, the principal says that this won’t be tolerated. One girl and her friends sneak into the bathroom to see what the bad thing is. It’s fun at first, until they see what is written. The bad something is truly bad, leaving them all feeling horrible. No one knows who wrote it, so everyone is looking closely at one another for clues. Afterwards people were meaner to each other. So the school decided to give everyone ribbons to remind them who they are and then launched an art project to permanently cover the bad thing. Everyone worked together painting and creating until they had made something remarkable. Sharing poems afterwards, students became kinder to one another, reminded who they are and who they want to be.
Based on happenings in her children’s schools, this picture book shows the continued impact that hate speech can have on a school. Campbell shows the emotions of the various children clearly, making space for different reactions to what has been written and also showing how not knowing exactly what was said can also cause emotional and negative responses. The book is filled with empathy for the students and offers one of many solutions to bring the student body back around. Using art to express themselves allows for emotions to be shared and the community itself to step forward.
The art is done in gouache, colored pencil and ink. The art shows the mixed emotions of the students in the school, reddened and sharpened feelings of accusation, dark red and black of meanness, bright yellow of hope and change. The illustrations are a gorgeous mix of lightness of line with deep color that conveys the feelings.
A look at hate speech and how to confront its impact. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Little, Brown and Company.