Monday 7 September 2020

A Quiet Girl

Finished September 4
A Quiet Girl by Peter Carnavas

I love the illustrations in Carnavas' books, both the way he draws nature and the quirky individualism of his human characters. But the other fantastic things about his books is the subtle, yet meaningful way in which he tackles larger issues and makes them real for kids.
Here we have Mary, a young girl who is thoughtful and quiet. We see her noticing the world around here (especially the individual noises different things make), engaging in thoughtful activities, and sharing them, quietly, with her family. But her family is loud, her using tools, devices, toys, and loud talk regularly. They don't hear here and tell her to talk louder. But Mary stays true to her self, and is a quiet girl. She becomes quieter and notices more and more things in the world around her, not just the sounds of it, but the sight of things, the smell of nature, and the feel of a breeze. She is present in her world in a meaningful way. At first her family just continued on with their normal noisy behaviours, making her feel like she wasn't even there. But then the did notice that she wasn't interacting with them, and they looked and called loudly for her. They didn't see or hear her. So they stopped and got quiet too, and listened, really listened. And they heard the noises of things around them, things that included Mary's voice singing a quiet small song as she fed the birds. And they realized what they had been missing in their normal activities.
The book includes a two page introduction to mindfulness at the end, giving some suggestions in how to be present in your world like Mary is in hers. I really like the last suggestion when they ask you to close your eyes and listen and identify the quietest sound that you can hear. Beautiful and simple to do and so, so satisfying.
Under the sound of my grandfather clock, the soft whish of my dehydrator in the kitchen, the hum of appliances, I can hear noises through the open window from outside, my cats' quiet breathing as they sleep near me, and feel the breeze coming through the window.

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