From School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-Always on-target navigating difficulties in human relationships, Woodson teams up with Lewis to deal a blow to the pervasive practice-among students of all economic backgrounds-of excluding those less fortunate. When a new student arrives midterm, head down, with broken sandals, she sits right next to Chloe, an African American girl. The teacher introduces the pigtailed new student as Maya, but hardly anyone says hello, nor does Chloe give a welcoming smile. Lyrical and stylistically tight writing act in perfect counterpoint to the gentle but detailed watercolor paintings of a diverse rural classroom. Chloe's best friends "this year" call Maya "Never New" because her clothes are always secondhand. Each time the cheerful, independent Maya invites the clique members to play, they refuse. Woodson's writing, full of revelation and short on reckoning, gives opportunity for countless inferences and deep discussion and dovetails with the illustrations of children's facial expressions from surprising angles, expansive countryside views, and pools of water and windows, which invite readers to pause, reflect, and empathize. When their teacher invites them to throw a pebble in water and watch the ripples radiate to symbolize an act of kindness they share with the class, Chloe stops. Maya no longer is there. Her family has had to move. Had Chloe been kind even once? With growing income disparity, and bullying on the rise, this story of remorse and lost opportunity arrives none too soon.-Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School, New York Cityα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
* "This quiet, intense picture book is about the small actions that can haunt. . . . Woodson's spare, eloquent free verse and Lewis' beautiful, spacious watercolor paintings tell a story for young kids that will touch all ages."
(Booklist, starred review)
"Unfolds with harsh beauty and the ominousness of opportunities lost. . . . The matter-of-fact tone of Chloe's narration paired against the illustrations' visual isolation of Maya creates its own tension. . . . Lewis dazzles with frame-worthy illustrations, masterful use of light guiding readers' emotional responses."
* “Always on-target navigating difficulties in human relationships, Woodson teams up with Lewis to deal a blow to the pervasive practice–among students of all economic backgrounds–of excluding those less fortunate. . . . Lyrical and stylistically tight writing act in perfect counterpoint to the gentle but detailed watercolor paintings. . . . Gives opportunity for countless inferences and deep discussion . . . invite[s] readers to pause, reflect, and empathize. . . . With growing income disparity, and bullying on the rise, this story of remorse and lost opportunity arrives none too soon.”
(School Library Journal, starred review)
* “Combining realism with shimmering impressionistic washes of color, Lewis turns readers into witnesses as kindness hangs in the balance. . . . Woodson . . . again brings an unsparing lyricism to a difficult topic.”
(Publishers Weekly, starred review)
“Woodson’s fluid writing and deft particularity makes the girls’ bullying rebuffs of Maya absolutely heartbreaking. . . . In his watercolors, Lewis embraces the effects of light like an Impressionist, while his creative, often cinematic uses of point of view add resonance to the story. . . . Offers an alternative view to rosier stories of forgiveness and bully-victim friendships.”
(The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books)
“Beautifully heartbreaking . . . sure to touch a tender spot. . . . The situation should resonate with young people who are sure to recognize themselves in either Chloe or Maya. Lovely watercolors perfectly complement this simple yet strong story.”
(Library Media Connection)
“Woodson’s affecting story, with its open ending, focuses on the withholding of friendship rather than outright bullying, and Lewis reflects the pensive mood in sober watercolors . . . in subtly detailed portraits. . . . A good conversation starter.”
(The Horn Book)