The Life of Ty: Non-Random Acts of Kindness
by Lauren Myracle
Dutton Children’s Books (Penguin)
The Premise: Seven-year-old Ty Perry and his classmates are assigned an “exciting project” by their teacher Mrs. Webber: doing random acts of kindness. “Because we are one big human family, and kindness is important.” The kids argue that it’s impossible to be random if the kind things are part of an assignment, hence the book’s title.
The story unfolds from Ty’s point of view, with some chapters revolving around his family life and others around his school days. He has two much older sisters, Winnie and Sandra, and a brand new baby sister named Maggie. His best friend Joseph is in the hospital being treated for leukemia, so there’s some awkwardness about who to hang out with during recess. Lexie sticks close but isn’t always the nicest girl. Breezie is prissy. Taylor has bullying tendencies.
Personal opinion: This is contemporary slice-of-life stuff, quite plausible. Ty faces the consequences of bad choices and the awkwardness of getting along with kids who don’t follow the same rules his family does. When Lexie comes over to play and acts up, it rings true when Ty says, “I am in a mood of not liking her very much.” Ty realizes that bullying isn’t always about hitting, that words can hurt and apologies can help.
I appreciated seeing Ty turn to his dad for comfort. And it’s sweet to see Ty’s sisters treat their little brother like a valued member of the family—not an annoyance. The author pulls things together beautifully in the end, when Winnie helps Ty understand that he’s being kind all the time. He argues that the stuff doesn’t count because none of it was on purpose. “Were they accidents?” Winnie asks. “Or were they just you being you?”
Picky-Choosy: I was always careful what kinds of books I put in my kids hands at this age. Parents can rest assured that Ty Perry’s kind qualities shine through. But be aware that the story includes both positive and negative examples of behavior. If your kiddo has trouble telling the difference, they might pick up some bad habits. I’d recommend reading this book with your child. Talk things through. Help them understand why Ty’s choices are admirable. Nitpicky: Ty uses “poop” as an expletive once.
Notes: The book’s illustrated by Jed Henry. Non-Random Acts of Kindness is the second in The Life of Ty series. Book one is called Penguin Problems, and this story sometimes refers back to events from that story.
Rating: If your child is in a classroom situation, this book may help them work through completely normal issues. Ty is a wonderful blend of sweetness and boy, and I’ll give his second book seven of ten stars (7★).