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Kindness Colors the World

A touching story set in Philly. Self-explanatory reading prompts provide caregivers with tools needed to support early language development.

Photo of Elsa Brink

Written by

Title: Kindness Colors the World              

(Cover Image: A Philadelphia street scene. Row houses on a rainy day. A little boy’s face in one of the windows.)

p.1 Title Page: Kindness Colors the World 

(Illustration: The entire scene is black and white. Only the title is in rainbow colors. A little 4-year-old Vietnamese boy is sitting in a small, messy living room, staring unhappily at the rain. Outside is a big tree on his side of the street, two row houses opposite his and a garden in the vacant lot between them.)

p.2 The rain was kind to the root. How? 

Splash! Blue. Can you find 1 Puddle?

(Illustration: In the garden, the boy can see a blue raindrop falling on the ground, and making that patch of soil brown. The rest of the scene remains black and white. As the book progresses, item by item will become colourful, so that the colour spreads from as the kindness spreads. The words Splash! Blue and 1 Drop all form part of the illustration.)

p.3 The root was kind to the fruit.

Wow! Red. 2 Raspberries. 

(Illustration: The whole plant becomes green, revealing two raspberries. From the left a Hispanic man in a wheelchair with an umbrella is coming down the ramp from his house.)

p.4 The fruit was kind to the father.

Yum! Yellow. 3 Colors.

(Illustration: The man picks raspberries that are hanging low over the fence. He is now drawn in color, with a yellow, red and blue umbrella.)

p.5 The father was kind to the mother.

Tickle-tickle! Purple. 4 Flowers.

(Illustration: The man is at his front door. Inside is his wife with a baby on her hip. He gives the raspberries to his wife and tickles the baby. The woman is in color, with 4 purple flowers on her skirt.) 

p.6 The mother was kind to the mouse.

Squeak! Grey. 5 Bricks. 

(Illustration: The woman drops a raspberry on the floor, where a grey mouse gets it. 5 bricks in the wall.)

p.7 The mouse was kind to the house

Pitter-patter! Brown. 6 Wires.

(Illustration: The mouse has a nest in a hole in the roof, because of which the rain cannot come in. The whole house is now colourful: white windows, brown bricks, curtains etc. Next to the rain, the words "Pitter-patter!" form part of the illustration. 6 electrical wires)

p.8 The house was kind to the honeybee.

Zoom! Green. 7 Plants.

(Illustration: A bee comes out of the basement window of the Hispanic couple’s house. 7 pot plants on the sidewalk.)

p.9 The honeybee was kind to the tree.

Bzzz! Pink. 8 Blossoms.

(Illustration: The bee is pollinating the colourful cherry blossom tree outside the boy’s window. A garbage truck is approaching from the left.)

p.10 The tree was kind to the truck.

Brrrmm! Blue. 9 Bins.

(Illustration: The garbage truck parks under the tree, thus sheltered from the rain, and collects trash and 9 blue recycling bins.)

p.11 The truck was kind to the duck.

Quack! Black. 10 Wheels.

(Illustration: The black garbage truck stops to let a stray duck cross the road. We count 10 truck/car/bicycle wheels.)

p.12 The duck was kind to the doll.

Plonk! Red. 11 Blocks.

(Illustration: The rain has stopped. The duck sees an old, wet doll with a red dress lying in the gutter. It lifts it out with its bill and it lands sprawled on the sidewalk. An African American boy (age 10) holding his little sister’s hand (age 3) approaches on the sidewalk from the left. Count 11 cement tiles on the sidewalk.)

p.13 The doll was kind to the ball.

There! Orange. 12 Poles.

(Illustration: The doll’s arm points at the orange basketball hidden in the thick grass in the garden. 12 poles in the garden fence.)

p.14 The ball was kind to the brother.

Thump! White. 13 Clouds.

(Illustration: The African American boy joyfully finds the ball and starts bouncing it. He is in now drawn in colour. From the house on the right of the garden, an old African American woman comes down her steps with difficulty. A mobile book distribution van enters the scene from the left.)

p.15 The brother was kind to the grandmother.

Hand? Grey. 14 people.

(Illustration: The book van has stopped outside the Vietnamese boy’s house, and the African American family is approaching it. The African American boy crosses the street helping his grandmother with one hand, and holding his little sister’s hand with the other. The grey-haired grandmother is now also in colour. 14 people of mixed ethnicities surround the van.)

p.16 The grandmother was kind to the girl.

Clap! Pink. 15 Braids.

(Illustration: The grandmother hands a book from the van to her clapping granddaughter. 15 braids on her head.)

p.17 The girl was kind to the world.

Smile! Rainbow. 16 Teeth.

(Illustration: The girl has a huge smile on her face, with rays of colour spreading out from her smile.)

p.18 The world was kind to the window.

Laugh! Silver. 17 Windows. 

(Illustration: The interior of the Vietnamese boy’s house, where everything is still black and white, but his window is a full-colour scene. A silver satellite dish 17 windows and on the buildings outside.)

p.19 The boy saw a van and a man

Wave! Yellow. 18 Books. 

(Illustration: A 45-year-old African American man hands out books from the yellow van and notices the boy wave at him from the window.)

p.20 The kind man brought the book. 

Thanks! Gold. 19 Leaves. 

(Illustration: The boy's mom, a young Vietnamese woman, is seen at the now-open window, taking the book from the man. He has a gold chain on. 19 leaves outside.)

p.21 And the book was kind to the boy.

Hug! Read! Sing! Green. 20 Fingers.

 

Carry on the Kindness. 

How can I be kind? I'll keep this in mind!

I’ll kindness show, to people I know.  

(Illustration: The boy is sitting on a green couch next to the window, reading the book with his mom. 20 fingers hold the book. The whole house is now colourful. The title of the book they are reading is “Carry on the Kindness”, with the short song on the cover.)

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

An empathetic story with exciting and detailed illustrations that will be loved and re-read by young and old alike. People can relate to Philadelphia's poorer urban spaces and the characters from all ethnicities in those communities. Embedded in the book are numerous verbal and visual reading prompts, nudging caregivers to interact with children age 0-3 in an engaging way, and modelling the best early literacy practices to them. These skills can then be applied to the reading of any other book.

Share your suggested book title

Kindness Colors the World

PLEASE USE THE VERSION OF THIS QUESTION AT THE TOP OF THE SUBMISSION FORM: Share a draft of your manuscript (250 word limit, not including title).

The rain was kind to the root. How? Splash! Blue. Find 1 Puddle. The root was kind to the fruit. Wow! Red. 2 Raspberries. The fruit was kind to the father. Yum! Yellow. 3 Colors. The father was kind to the mother. Tickle-tickle! Purple. 4 Flowers. The mother was kind to the mouse. Squeak! Grey. 5 Bricks. The mouse was kind to the house. Pitter-patter! Brown. 6 Wires. The house was kind to the honeybee. Zoom! Green. 7 Plants. The honeybee was kind to the tree. Bzzz! Pink. 8 Blossoms. The tree was kind to the truck. Brrrmm! Blue. 9 Bins. The truck was kind to the duck. Quack! Black. 10 Wheels. The duck was kind to the doll. Plonk! Red. 11 Blocks. The doll was kind to the ball. There! Orange. 12 Poles. The ball was kind to the brother. Thump! White. 13 Clouds. The brother was kind to the grandmother. Hand? Grey. 14 people. The grandmother was kind to the girl. Clap! Pink. 15 Birds. The girl was kind to the world. Smile! Rainbow. 16 Teeth. The world was kind to the window. Laugh! Silver. 17 Windows. The boy saw a van and a man. Wave! Yellow. 18 Books. The kind man brought the book. Thanks! Gold. 19 Leaves. And the book was kind to the boy. Hug! Read! Sing! Green. 20 Fingers. Carry on the Kindness. How can I be kind? I'll keep this in mind. I’ll kindness show, to people I know.

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

Literacy starts with early positive associations created by warmth and communication with a caregiver while reading. This book points adults towards 14 fun ways to maintain kids' attention & to support language development in age 0-3: 1)TIER 1 VOCABULARY: easy & familiar. 2)PHONICS: alliteration accentuated. 3)COLORS: written in, reminding parents to name them. 4)RHYME: underlined. 5)REPETITION: aids memorisation, kid’s thus “read”.6)NUMBERS: count items & see number. 7)POINTING: the change from b&w to color promote pointing, which is essential to babies’ development. 8)ONOMATOPOEIA: babies start talking with sounds, thus adults are encouraged to make them e.g quack. 9)QUESTION ASKING: How? and ? in speech bubbles are catalysts for meaningful conversation. 10)SINGING: adults are asked to sing on the last page. 11)ACTIONS: words encourage gestures e.g clap. 12)NAMING BODY PARTS 13)KEY TAKEAWAY CONCEPTS: kindness, value of books, emotions. 14)RELATED ACTIVITIES: e.g. gardening, recycling

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

I lived in the US for 2 years but have never been to Philadelphia. I have researched the city's demographics, geographical patterns of poverty and community upliftment projects. Through my research I came across and was inspired by organisations such as: 1) Philadelphia Orchards Project; 2) Read by the 4th & Philly Out of School Time Initiative and 3) Susquehanna Pick-Up & Philly Spring Clean-Up. These initiatives, respectively, "spread kindness" to transform communities by: 1) cultivating edible plants in formerly vacant lots to provide residents access to fresh produce; 2) distributing books and providing reading coaching to support literacy and 3) leading community-based cleanup projects.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

The difficulties and joys experienced by an ethnically-mixed urban community will resonate with young and old. BENEFITS FOR KIDS: develop early literacy; increase general knowledge; love books from an early age; break the cycle of poverty through reading (a proven factor of future academic success). BENEFITS FOR ADULTS: be captured by a beautiful & touching book, thus wanting to read it repeatedly; inspire a change of their own behaviour by seeing a pattern of kindness; assist second-language adults to develop their English literacy; engage kids in any language through "?" cues; value books; recognise the importance of literacy; receive a host of reading skills that can be widely applied.

Location: Country

South Africa

Location: State or Department

Gauteng

Location: City

Pretoria

Tell us more about you / your team

I am a historian and writer, and a mother of four little boys, whom I have spent 9 years reading to and who have all become avid readers. Through volunteer reading coaching in my community, I have seen what a difference literacy can make: learning to love a book can be a welcome escape, bringing hope and imagination into a child's life, as well as improving their chances of future academic success. I have also noticed that caregivers do not read to their kids in an engaging way – when I make a sound, count or ask questions while coaching, kids are surprised and enthralled because they have never heard it before. I was thus inspired to help adults develop these skills. I feel connected to the communities at the focus of this challenge because poverty, illiteracy, abuse and prejudice also confront me, living in Africa and being 8th-generation African. I believe this challenge will have a huge impact on communities in Philly and hope that similar book-distribution could happen in my city.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

The scene set at the start of the book will be in black, grey and white, overcast and raining. As "kindness" spreads from item to item, each item gets coloured in. I love Shirley Hughes' illustration style: it is inviting, genuine, urban, recognisable, filled with intimate details of daily life and has international appeal due to the universality of childhood that she depicts. Brian Collier's collage style with super realism or a photo collage could also work: b&w photos with splashes of colour.

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • No

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists

32 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of Jennifer Buis
Team

Elsa, Nice job on your manuscript! I enjoyed reading a story about kindness! Great message for children and caregivers reading it!!
Jennifer Buis
Author of Buddy Goes To Clark Park in West Philadelphia

Spam
Photo of Leah de Castro
Team

Great submission, this is a really strong concept. As a paediatrician I feel that it is really important to instil empathy and kindness in a new generation. The use of colour, rhyming and alliteration will help young children engage with the story. Best of luck!

Spam
Photo of Elsa Brink
Team

Thanks so much!

Spam
Photo of Laura O'Siggins
Team

I enjoyed your book as well as comments of detail on how you address the questions asked. Am hoping I get time at work to edit since I was trying to get everything submitted just before work.
I love the concept of color with kindness and using black and white until the color grows and grows with kindness.

Spam
Photo of Elsa Brink
Team

Thank you! Good luck.

Spam
Photo of Dea Brayden and Lindsay Brayden Ellis
Team

I really enjoy circular stories. Thanks for this, Elsa!

Spam
Photo of Anne Taylor
Team

Hi Elsa! I am on the board of the Philadelphia Orchard Project, and it was such a joy to read that you came across the organization and that its work helped to inspire this lovely story!

Spam
Photo of Elsa Brink
Team

Hi Anne. What a wonderful surprise to hear from you. I was fully planning on contacting someone from POP to let them know how much their project inspired me, and ask them if they wanted to read the manuscript. (I am still busy with some final edits and have thus not yet done so.) Thanks: you beat me to it! I find the work that POP does truly meaningful. I am especially touched by it because I live in South Africa and could imagine a similar project making a huge impact in our poor urban communities: bringing food, but also hope, joy, learning and a communal atmosphere to townships here. I hope one day there could be some "Mercy St" gardens here too!

Spam
Photo of Anne Taylor
Team

Hi Elsa! I got swamped on work stuff so am terribly late to reply, but wanted to let you know that I passed this on to POP staff and they were super excited to learn that you had found the organization and that you found its work inspirational! Thanks so much, and best of luck in this process!

Spam
Photo of Elsa Brink
Team

Hi Anne. Thank you so much! Please re-look at my manuscript later today as I'm doing the final edits, and there are even a few illustrations added - featuring an urban garden!

Spam
Photo of Marty lapointe-malchik
Team

Oh Elsa! This reads so beautifully. I love the repetition and the all encompassing theme of kindness. I think the text and the art will shine in the hands of a little person and a caregiver because it will have so much to label in its spreads. Very nicely done! Best of luck to you in the challenge.
Best,
Marty

Spam
Photo of Elsa Brink
Team

Thank you Marty! I've had such fun with this project.

Spam
Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Hi Elsa, this is a beautiful, beautiful story and I love the way that a little bit of colour is added to each page. It may be easier for others to recognise your illustrations by putting them in italics. I was a bit thrown by the large chunks of text at first.

Good luck with your submission. I think that Shirley Hughes style illustrations would work beautifully for this story :o)

Spam
Photo of Elsa Brink
Team

Thanks, Catherine. That is a great idea. Because my illustrations would be so central to the storyline, I have to describe them, but you're right, it looks daunting to the reader. I will try italics, or another method to simplify it!

Spam
Photo of Itika Gupta
Team

A great way to improve and revise your work is through connecting with others and receiving feedback. Paul Rondema  is another storyteller who is also exploring noble feelings like kindness and gratitude. I encourage you both to provide a couple of lines of feedback to one another’s manuscript submissions through the comments section to support the refinement of your work!

Spam
Photo of Elsa Brink
Team

Thanks, Itika! We have been in contact.

I have a question, after the 12th of April, when we do our final submission, will our manuscripts still be visible on the website, or do they "disappear"?

Spam
Photo of Thu-Trang Tran
Team

Elsa, I can see the careful selection of each of your keywords.
I have a thought for a title that I thought goes with your colouring the world theme: Kindness colours the world

Spam
Photo of Ashanti Antonio Prescott
Team

nice suggestion

Spam
Photo of Elsa Brink
Team

What a great suggestion, thanks!

Spam
Photo of Paul Rondema
Team

Elsa, what a wonderful text. I appreciate the subtle rhymes and the implication that one act of kindness is the catalyst for more kindness.

Best of luck.

Spam
Photo of Elsa Brink
Team

Thank you!

Spam
Photo of Elsa Brink
Team

I especially appreciate the word 'catalyst' - that's exactly what I had in mind, but couldn't find the word for it.

Spam
Photo of Perlina Murray
Team

I think you should make it more fun with rhymes and color. A line like
we should be kind,
With other in mind,
I love to share,
And be very fair.
It shows I care,
For others dear.
Just a suggestion.

Spam
Photo of Laurel Moffatt
Team

This is lovely! I love the portrait of the world that you have crafted.

Spam
Photo of Shondra M. Quarles
Team

Your book so well planned out!

Spam
Photo of Chris M. Regier
Team

This is a lovely idea, Elsa, and your vision for it is truly beautiful.

Spam
Photo of Janelle Schroy
Team

Oh my word! I love this idea so much. I would by this book for my kids for sure. Great work, Elsa!

Spam
Photo of Dawnnbooks .
Team

How does your story work with the 250 word count? Seems like quite a lot of text.

Spam
Photo of Elsa Brink
Team

The actual word count is very low. The additional text is a description of the illustrations, which will obviously be unnecessary once the illustrations are there to 'speak for themselves'.

Spam
Photo of Dawnnbooks .
Team

Makes sense. Thank you.

Spam
Photo of Itika Gupta
Team

Hi Elsa Brink  Great to see you joining the Challenge! We noticed your submission is currently unpublished. Was this your intention? We'd love to have your submission included in the Challenge. You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your post by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top. We're looking forward to seeing your submission in this challenge.

Spam
Photo of Elsa Brink
Team

Hello Itika, lovely to hear from you. I am still working on the final edit of my submission, but intend on publishing it later today when it is complete. Thank you!