Mr. Tweed’s Good Deeds: An Unusual Counting Book about the Power of Small Kindnesses
By Maria Popova
However anguishing the art of asking for help may be, little is more gladdening than the act of giving it. That’s the premise behind Mr. Tweed’s Good Deeds (public library) — a most unusual and gorgeously illustrated counting book by Jim Stoten, using Mr. Tweed’s small acts of kindness to teach kids the numbers and sneak in a subtle lesson on the power of grace.
On his daily walk into town, Mr. Tweed encounters various friends and neighbors, each having misplaced something valuable or dear. The search for these missing items becomes as much a counting game as it does a portal into Mr. Tweed’s whimsical, psychedelic world.
Little Colin Rocodile is missing his one kite and Mrs. Fluffycuddle her two kittens.
Mr. Tweed crawls up the numbers as he lends each a helping hand — there he is at the library, looking for Mr. McMeow’s three lost mice, for “a library is no place for three lost mice”; there he is on the bridge, consoling Little Penny Paws, who has dropped the seven flowers for mother into the river. There is a “Where’s Waldo” feel as a busy, vibrant scene of thoughtfully organized colorful chaos invites a visual scavenger hunt for the missing items.
After a long day of small kindnesses for his friends and neighbors, Mr. Tweed is summoned to a surprise party they have thrown to thank him, where he is presented with exactly ten gifts.
Mr. Tweed’s Good Deeds comes from independent British picture-book press Flying Eye Books, whose roster of heartening gems includes a sweet celebration of connection and inner softness, the delightful field guide of mythic monsters, a visual chronicle of Shackleton’s historic polar expedition, and some illustrated rocket fuel for the souls of budding Sagans.
For sending young ones off into a different stage of life with the same message, see George Saunders’s fantastic commencement address on the power of kindness. For another take on numbers, see Paul Rand’s wonderful vintage children’s book Little 1.
Published November 13, 2014