World Kindness Day 2019 & 'The Boy Who Loved Everyone'

The Inspiration Behind 'The Boy Who Loved Everyone'
World Kindness Day 2019
In celebration of World Kindness Day today, I'd like to share a picture book with you about a young boy who sends a little bit of kindness out to everyone and everything around him as easily as he breathes. In turn, he causes a 'ripple effect' of goodwill simply because he says "I love you." I'm also incredibly lucky to be able to share with you the inspiration behind the story from the author and illustrator themselves...
 'The Boy Who Loved Everyone' by Jane Porter & Maisie Paradise Shearring
As the story begins, young Dmitri has just started going to Nursery. He encounters a group of children who seem to be well-acquainted already, but his kind nature shines through as he chooses to sit beside another child during their story time and tells him "I love you, Liam". Liam is not quite sure how to respond and so chooses not to. This doesn't put Dmitri off of sharing his friendly spirit... He later says "I love you" to a small group of children outside, a tree, some ants, the cook, the class guinea pig, his teacher and even a man that he spots sitting on a bench while walking home. The reactions that he receives vary widely - from giggles, to shouting, to nothing at all. They all seem to disappoint him.
It isn't until Dmitri shares his feelings with his mother - sad, disheartened and reluctant to return to Nursery - that he begins to discover the different ways that people can share their love and kindness. She explains to Dmitri that the 'love' he showed others is a truly wonderful thing because it can spread and encourage them to 'pass it on' in their own way. They notice the man from the park bench feeding some cats as they head to Nursery, the cook waves 'Good Morning' to Dmitri as he arrives, his peers ask for his help while in the playground, and Liam asks Dmitri to sit with him for story! He begins to recognise that these are all ways that people can express how they care for someone. He 'fed' their souls with warmth and love and watched as the ripple effect grew out into the world!
When reading this story with my Nursery class, the key detail that they noticed was how Dmitri felt when he didn't receive an 'I love you' back. Some even made a connection between this and the weather in the story... For instance, as Dmitri walks home from nursery mulling over the 'reactions' that he's had, one 3-year old told me that "it's raining because he's sad." Another suggested that "he should play in the puddles to feel happy again!" Maybe that would make Dmitri feel a little better...

  The Inspiration Behind the Story & Illustrations
 (Maisie and Jane pictured above L-R).
Jane: Every week I run an art class at a local nursery. It’s the high spot of my week: seeing the world through the children’s eyes gives me such a lift and is always so inspiring.

Around the time of the referendum three years ago, there was a little Greek boy in the class, and it was his delightful habit to say ‘I love you’ to everyone he saw. The first class after the results, there was a huge sense of sadness in the air from the wonderful nursery staff, who came from all over Europe. And I felt I didn’t know what to say to make it better – until this boy called out ‘I love you’ which somehow liberated me to express my own feelings.

I knew I wanted to write a story about him, and it came together very quickly after that. I love the classic Christmas film It’s A Wonderful Life (it’s impossible to watch without crying – in a good way!). I thought perhaps the boy in my story could also have a low point and then be shown what a difference his loving nature had made in the world.

The real boy who inspired the story is now seven years old, and he is looking forward to signing autographs at the book launch!
Once the story was complete, and Walker Books had said they liked it, we started talking about illustrations. I was a big fan of Maisie’s work and very excited when she agreed to create the artwork. She asked if she could come and draw at the nursery I visit, and ended up spending two days there creating sketches just bursting with life.

Maisie: I particularly loved observing the ways a group listened to a story, those who sat virtually on the teacher’s feet, those who secretly played, and the one or two who just walked away. I also noted that all the children had velcro shoes! 

For the final artwork, I worked using gouache and a china marker for the line – these were created on separate sheets then scanned and put together digitally.

Jane: Maisie’s glorious artwork is so true to life, and full of tenderness. It’s perfect for this story inspired by real life kindness. I hope we will get to do another book together one day!

I hope so too because Dmitri's story is a wonderful, hope-filled gem! My fingers will remain crossed for you both to collaborate again :) Until then, my class and I shall happily revisit this tale of love and kindness as often as we can...

Happy reading to you all,
Maxine x

I'd like to thank Jane & Maisie for providing the photographs that are used within their 'Inspiration behind the story' piece, as well as for taking the time to write about their inspirations. As someone who works in Early Years, I greatly respect their ability and passion to capture the 'real lives' of three year-olds. It is refreshing to see this in a modern picture book and we shall continue to treasure their story!

(Disclaimer: A copy of this story was sent by the publisher Walker Books for review.)


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