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Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed

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Can one child's good deed change the world? It can when she’s Ordinary Mary—an ordinary girl from an ordinary school, on her way to her ordinary house—who stumbles upon ordinary blueberries. When she decides to pick them for her neighbor, Mrs. Bishop, she starts a chain reaction that multiplies around the world.

32 pages, Hardcover

First published April 29, 2002

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Emily Pearson

40 books6 followers

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5 stars
347 (47%)
4 stars
233 (31%)
3 stars
115 (15%)
2 stars
25 (3%)
1 star
9 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 149 reviews
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,166 reviews2,237 followers
March 20, 2021
This book need to be read everyday, yes, for the adult reading it and yes, for the children who are growing up.

This is the positivity we all need now.

One person helping another without expecting anything in return and such an act being forwarded by the kind people who has recieved such an act.

I love the concept. There's nothing in this classic picture book that I didn't like or feel could have been done better.

I want to keep a physical copy of this.

I needed this.
Profile Image for Chance Lee.
1,321 reviews119 followers
January 5, 2018
Nice artwork accompanies a long, rambling story about how a good deed can spread. The story is a little heavy handed, but nice in spirit.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,088 reviews181 followers
February 2, 2020
When an ordinary little girl named Mary picks some blueberries for her elderly neighbor, she has no idea that she is setting in motion a chain reaction of good deeds and good feelings that will eventually include the entire world. As each person is helped, the happiness they feel leads them to help five others, with kindness radiating outward from its original source - the eponymous Ordinary Mary - and then finding its way back to her again...

Although I do think that its heart is in the right place, and appreciate the message of "paying it forward" that the narrative encourages, somehow Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed didn't quite win me over. I liked the idea of the book, but wasn't particularly moved by it, emotionally speaking. I also wasn't especially impressed by the writing, which incorporates the occasional rhyme, but is otherwise unremarkable. The accompanying artwork by illustrator Fumi Kosaka was likewise not really my cup of tea. Tastes vary, of course, and I can see some really taking this story of a chain reaction of kind deeds to heart. I'd recommend that the potential reader try it, and see for themselves how they feel.
Profile Image for Hazel.
Author 2 books13 followers
June 20, 2007
The premise is slightly cliche; Ordinary Mary does a good deed, and the reader watches the ripple effect of good deeds as each person who benefits from one person's good deed in turn does five good deeds. Quickly, the benefits of kindness reach everyone in the world (this is shown by a two page display of mathematical figures that reach 6,103,515,625 within 14 days of each person accomplishing five deeds.) The premise could be successful, but this book doesn't manage it.

Here's my list of complaints:

The book is too optimistic (and simplistic) to be sincere.

The mathematics of good deeds turns me off.

Many of the good deeds involve giving people things, which seems to me to promote the idea that material wealth = health & happiness.

There's a lack of racial diversity, even on the page that shows the world, populated by people standing on continents, where the VAST majority of the people are white. There are maybe 6 or 7 of the 39 people whose faces are visible that could be of Asian, Latin or American Indian descent, maybe. There are no people of African descent pictured in the book. Amazing that this book was published in 2002.

The stilted and inconsistent presence of rhyme is annoying and makes this unpleasant to read aloud.

All in all, this book, for me at least, was a stinker.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
839 reviews59 followers
February 1, 2015
I thought this book just lovely, with a beautiful message of spreading kindness in a sort of "pass it on" type of gesture. Ordinary Mary's simple act of kindness sets off a chain reaction wherein five people do a similar kindness, and then each of those people do something nice for five others, and so on and so forth, until good deeds have been done for every person on the planet.

I read it to first graders, who were mesmerized. It helped that we could make a text-to-self connection with a similar kindness challenge going on at school this month. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Wendy.
111 reviews
January 20, 2009
Added this one to my Christmas book collection this year although it is not a Christmas book (it just gave me a good excuse to buy it, and I ended up giving several as gifts). Delightful little tale and explanation of the "pay it forward" idea. A great tool for an object lesson on service or the great impact little acts of service can have. A good message for kids and adults alike.
Profile Image for Elaine.
813 reviews14 followers
June 19, 2017
I am grateful to have won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway and intend to donate my copy to the library where I work so that it may be shared with many children and families!

Wow! This book shares an amazing message: one small act of kindness multiplies quickly into BILLIONS without even realizing! Very young children all the way to the very old adults can be inspired by this book to do good for others!

This story is fun and the poetic flow of the text makes it a quick and intriguing read. It's an excellent bedtime story or story time book! Easily 5/5 stars!!!
Profile Image for Danielle H.
314 reviews17 followers
December 14, 2016
I just felt like this story went on tremendously too long and was unrealistic for it's length and the deeds, but did like the intention. It also bothered me a little bit that the message seemed to kind of be it was good that Mary did something kind because she got something out of it, indirectly, in the end, when the point should really just be that she wanted to do the kind thing. I think it would still function as a good discussion starter for my students and lead to some good writing pieces though, so, we'll see.
Profile Image for Loreanna McKinney.
5 reviews1 follower
February 15, 2018
Even though this book is a children's picture book, it has a message for everyone: be kind. Emily Person's book, Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed, tells of how one act of kindness can change the entire world. It encourages the reader to take something so ordinary, like blueberries, and see how they can become something so extraordinary. The illustrations were the perfect companion to the story. Vivid colors and cartoon-like figures made the lovely book even more enjoyable.

In the classroom, this book would be PERFECT to begin the year with. It would allow teachers to set the tone for the rest of the year in her classroom. It would foster a feeling of community within the classroom, encouraging students to perform random acts of kindness for others. Emily Pearson's book also allows students to see the impact one thing can have on a person and the opportunity that one simple act has to make in the world. While the character lessons this book provides are amazing, it can also be used for sequencing a story. The systematic story-telling strategy that is used would allow students to sequence the events in a way that students can better understand the story. This is a picture book that I would definitely implement in my classroom, no matter the purpose behind it.
Profile Image for Steve Holden.
477 reviews7 followers
June 3, 2017
This is another book found in my search for positive behavior promoting picture books. The concept of this one is awesome - be kind and do good deeds to others because no matter how ordinary you may be/seem, it can have a great affect on others and cause a positive chain reaction. It's a story intended for young audiences, so it can be overly optimistic. The idea of being kind to others is simple to teach, promote, and be positive about. The idea of one good deed going on to have an impact on so many other people might be a bit of a stretch, but there's no harm in teaching and modeling kindness. This one does lose a bit of steam as a read aloud with a stretch focused mostly on math and how many people can be positively affected by a single kind act. So in this one, there are a lot of positive takeaways, but it might be best as a book available for students to check out on their own in teaching and promoting kindness.
Profile Image for Sheerin Shahab.
174 reviews4 followers
December 4, 2020
Can one act of kindness multiply and result in spreading love all around the world, and still have love and kindness left over? This is what this book for kids would have us believe.

Ordinary Mary in her ordinary dress on an ordinary day while going to do something perfectly ordinary comes upon some luscious ordinary blueberries in an ordinary plot on the way. She decides to pick some up and leaves one basket full of the ordinary berries for her neighbor Mrs. Bishop on her door step. Mrs. Bishop decides to take the kindness forward to five people, who in turn take it to a further five, resulting in a chain reaction of kindness and goodwill till one day the chain is complete and Mary's ordinary act of selfless kindness returns to her.

The illustrations are good but the language repetitive a bit. Moreover the book tries to convince that billions of kind acts would be traversing the world but doesn't take into account that the chain might be broken at some point.  It seemed just a tad forced to me even though the message behind the book is lovely.
Profile Image for Krishna.
32 reviews
April 26, 2020
My mom used to, and still says that kindness never goes wasted. It blesses the receiver and the giver.... she is a firm believer of karma and would say you do your thing be kind and don’t expect anything in return and you will see how the universe will come back blessing you ... and today when I was reading this book to my son (yes, he is 10 but I still do read to him) her words of wisdom was what absolutely resonated with this story💓💓 An extraordinary book with a powerful message, vivid illustrations and sure to make you smile .... This book is a must on my list of recommendations for all kids and can be easily read to older kids too especially now when they need more of love , hope and faith during these trying times ... @booksandexperiences gives it a 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 #booksandexperiences #booksandexperiencestraveldiaries #bae✈️ #bookstagram #mumbaimommyblogger #booksforkids #childrensbookillustration
Profile Image for Kathleen Dixon.
3,555 reviews59 followers
July 30, 2020
I saw this briefly and thought it'd be nice to read at school with my grandchildren. The oldest is now trying school out (that's a school-school, as opposed to homeschool) so he didn't get to see this book, but the two girls loved it. They are aged 11 and 9, and I often read a picture book to them for discussion and art purposes.

There are a couple of things this book could do better - racial mix being one of them, and leaving off the occasional rhyming being another. However, neither of these impacted on the girls as I was reading it, and we tackled them in our discussion. All told, it was a real pleasure.
7 reviews
March 23, 2017
I read the book Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by one of my favorite authors Emily Pearson. This book is about a girl named Mary who decided one day that she was going to take her neighbor, Mrs. Bishop some berries. Her neighbor then decided to use those berries and make some blueberry muffins and give them to five people. Those five people went and did nice things for five more people and on it went. It continued and acts of kindness were spread to many people all over the world. Then it came back to Mary. This book talks about how one ordinary act of kindness can really go a long way and many people can be influenced by your decision to do something good and be kind to others. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes good uplifting stories and also to people that like to help others. This story made me want to help more people and spread more kindness. I really enjoyed reading this book and thought it was a very great story.
Profile Image for Kylie Matusiewicz.
40 reviews1 follower
August 31, 2017
After all the news about Texas and Louisiana with the flood, this is the perfect book to pull out. This book practices a skill which is finding a current event and reading a book that focuses on the subject for younger students to understand this more. The book follows how kindness can really go a long way and remember how to treat everyone. Doing one good deed could set off a chain reaction of things. I believe that this book could be read to any age it is always important to learn these messages!
Profile Image for Christine.
68 reviews39 followers
November 22, 2018
This is a wonderful story about the ripple effect that kindness can have. It starts with a little girl does a kind deed which in turn inspires another act of kindness and so forth and so forth. Read this book with a class of kindergarten students for World Kindness Day and then we made Kindness muffins to share with other students and teachers in the school. The children loved this story and were inspired to go out and do good in the world. It is a great addition to any children's library. I know I will be buying several copies to give as Christmas gifts this year.
Profile Image for Audrey.
47 reviews
July 19, 2019
I read this book quickly at work as I was fixing a cataloging error on it. This will be a book I revisit when my son gets older. The message about random acts of kindness was written so simply, so naturally and will be perfect to not only explain why doing nice things is important, but also what can happen when you do them. I loved it and I love finding kids' books to hoard away until my son gets older and will be able to understand them. Also, the illustrations were adorable! I loved the art style.
Profile Image for Kristen Miller.
48 reviews1 follower
September 6, 2020
Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson was a wonderful book. It shows how one ordinary kind deed can have a ripple effect and inspire others to do the same. I also believe that it would be an amazing tool to use to show students how wildly capable they are of whatever it is that they are interested in. It also encourages students to carry out kind actions that may in turn bring light and joy into someone else's life. This is a book that I highly recommend and will most definitely have on the shelves of my classroom one day.
Profile Image for Donna Thomas.
102 reviews1 follower
August 23, 2018
I read this beautiful children's story to my spiritual formation ladies that meet at my home once a month for brunch. It's a sweet reminder that the random acts of kindness that we extend to each other bring joy to not only the recipient, but to others beyond our little corners of the world. For an unexpected blessing is the impetus to pass along another thoughtful treasure to brighten one more person's day. And the giving keeps on giving.
Profile Image for Cheriee Weichel.
2,413 reviews34 followers
March 7, 2019
One day Ordinary Mary finds some blueberries in an empty lot. She picks them and gives them away to Mrs Bishop who baked them into blueberry muffins that she gave away to five different people. One of these characters is so glad that he does something good for 5 other people. The story continues in this vein until it comes round to Mary. The message of paying it forward is obvious, but it's worth reading anyway.
338 reviews
May 23, 2019
I was looking for stories that would encourage kindness, and while this does have a good message about how one person's kindness can inspire kindness in others in an ever-widening ripple, the story and language are basically ... boring. There are inconsistent rhymes with terrible rhythm, which makes it even worse. The idea is a good one, and the book gets the idea across bluntly, but surely other books do it better.
54 reviews
November 19, 2019
Mary is just an ordinary little girl who pays it forward when she gives her neighbor some blueberries. This random act of kindness triggers a positive reaction that is finds its way around the world. This books promotes non-bullying behaviors and how just a simple act of kindness can make such a big impact in so many wonderful ways. I use this book in my friendship unit, it's powerful message also provides opportunities to teach point of view and dialogue study.
Profile Image for Aleeyah Flores.
19 reviews1 follower
September 8, 2022
Have you ever thought about changing the world? Mary is a sweet young girl whose niceness goes farther than she could have expected.

This picture book is a great example of quality in fiction. The theme of this book can clearly be seen as kindness. The character has a great caring personality that most readers can relate to. This is a great book to teach in a 2nd grade classroom so teachers can stress to their students the importance of being nice to one another.
154 reviews18 followers
June 17, 2017
I'm not sure I could love this book more than I already do. It's the children's version of the "paying it forward" concept with a math component as well. I will say that this is a text-heavy picture book, so it will be more difficult for littles to sit still until the end and comprehend the message. Perfect for lower elementary audiences.
Profile Image for Amanda.
27 reviews3 followers
June 21, 2017
This is a delightful book that shows how the power of simple kindness can spread and multiply. My children really enjoyed when the book numerically detailed how Mary's kindness multiplied, and they could see what an enormous impact it had. A perfect book for young grade school aged children.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Maeve.
2,045 reviews18 followers
December 23, 2020
On an ordinary day, Mary finds a bush of blueberries, picks them, and secretly gives them to a neighbor. The neighbor makes muffins and gifts them to five people. Each time someone receives a nice gesture from someone else, they pass it along to another five people, until it changes the world.

A cute story about paying it forward and being kind and caring to your fellow human beings.
Profile Image for Pam Vickers.
75 reviews13 followers
March 19, 2017
Great story about being kind!

Cute book! Love the idea and will definitely use it in my pre-k classroom! The illustrations were beautiful and I recommend reading this to your child.
Profile Image for Shelley.
536 reviews40 followers
September 2, 2017
Simple little book about how one girl doing something nice can affect a lot of people and even come back to her.

Building up others builds up the entire community/world.

*Could be fun to have blueberries while you read this or make blueberry muffins to give away for a service project afterwards.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 149 reviews

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