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The Kindess Revolution:
I walk with Vanessa

Not a word is needed to start the kindness revolution.
This book has been floating around on social media for a while now, and for a good a reason.  It's a delicate silent book tackling a difficult topic, that of bullying.
We follow Vanessa during her first lonely day in a new school and then on her way home, when a boy picks on her becoming verbally abusive.

As we watch her sadness bursting when the the boy turns around and leaves, pleased with himself, we also see the reaction of a schoolmate who witnesses the event.
The girl can't stop thinking about Vanessa, and the morning after she decides to head to her house and walk with her to school.  
More and more friends join the duo along the way, until a coloured crowd of children enters the school with Vanessa, leaving the bully beet red with frustration.
The story ends with a reversed situation, and Vanessa happily sitting among her friends, instead of looking down at her desk like in the first page.
Some tips on bullying for both children and parents are listed in the very last page, which I found helpful to lightly start a conversation on the topic and open a discussion on the book with older children, inspiring them to report and discuss events of their day.
What I liked about this book:
Firstly the choice of making it a wordless book. The absence of a narration makes the story simple enough to be universally understood. Vanessa'a story will easily resonate with a 3 year old at nursery and with a 5 or 6 year old in primary school, because any child will have experienced or witnessed bullying to some extent.
In fact, the authors don't really focus on the type or degree of violence that Vanessa is subjected to. What the boy exactly tells her is not relevant, but the focus is rather on Vanessa's feelings, on her increased vulnerability as she must settle in a new environment.
Secondly, the reaction of her schoolmate is brilliantly depicted as she is stuck with what she saw all night, unable to go back to her family routine.
Think the main message is disclosed in those two pages: modelling kindness means showing how to take action, and action comes from thinking, from not wanting to let go.
Lastly, this is an entirely positive story: although the bully clearly feels ashamed in the end, there's no negative feeling nor punishment for him. None of the children in the crowd looks at him, not because they want to ignore him, they just happily look straight while heading to school, some smile at Vanessa. 

An important book about bullying and kindness but also about identity (who do we want to be? how can we become that person?) and about the power of individual actions on the community. Empowering, delicate and really helpful to any parent and teacher. An essential addition to any school and class libraries.
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I walk with Vanessa
A story about a simple act of kindness [6th February 2018, available here ]
by Kerascoet (Marie Pommepuy & Sebastien Cosset)
English edition published by Schwartz&Wade Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

Io sto con Vanessa
Quando la gentilezza fa la rivoluzione [11th September 2018, available here]
Italian edition published by DeAgostini

Reading age: 3+
Themes: Bullying, Kindness, Relationship with others, Identity

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