When do you feel quiet? Deborah Underwood’s picture book suggests a variety of situations in which someone might encounter quiet — for example, while waiting, hiding, or processing a surprise or a disappointment. While the situations included in the book are likely to be particularly relevant to small children (jelly side down quiet; tucking in teddy quiet), most are universal enough to recall experiences of stillness and quiet to the minds of older readers as well. In fact, as you work your way through the book, it seems quite natural to slow and remember feeling this kind of quiet and that, and to feel quieter in the act of remembering.
Renata Liwska illustrates each type of quiet with one or more of a community of childlike animals. A hedgehog checks out his new brush cut. A moose waits to be picked up from school. A rabbit hides from an intimidating relative. Some illustrations are focused — only one or two characters and the necessary props — while others involve detailed backgrounds, suggesting the atmosphere surrounding this particular quiet: a time of day, another activity being missed, a place, or a bit of weather. All are presented with a softness that’s less sweet than cosy.
The Quiet Book is much more experience than story, and I suspect that it would be as useful for inspiring discussion around different experiences and emotions as for preparing a little one for bed. Underwood and Liwska have also collaborated on The Christmas Quiet Book (almost as good) and The Loud Book (which has the opposite effect). All three are well worth experiencing for yourself.
Cover image from The Quiet Book, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Renata Liwska. Copyright © 2010. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.