Hello! A Counting Book of Kindnesses is a beautiful story about a mother and her three children who are forced to flee from a war-torn country. Along the way, they are met with many people on their journey who show them great kindness, such as providing them with food and shelter, and providing the children with a good education and friendship. Kurman’s wonderful story speaks to the importance of empathy, understanding and generosity in ensuring the safety and happiness of refugees. By presenting this information in such a way that children are learning about the situation for refugees alongside practical educational skills such as counting, Kurman shows that the development of emotional skills such as empathy and kindness are integral to the education of children.
The message at the heart of Kurman’s writing – that refugees should be treated with kindness, respect and friendship, and that they deserve equal opportunity – is also informed by the warmth and optimism encapsulated within Barroux’s beautiful illustrations. Barroux’s drawings embody the hopes and dreams of millions of migrants in a truly heart-warming manner. He uses a palette of earth tones from the beginning to the end of the book, implying a sense of connectedness between the poor country the refugees have come from and the wealthy land where they find safety. The central meaning of the book is clear: we are all part of the same global community, and we have a responsibility to help each other in times of need.