A Quiet Girl
A Quiet Girl
So Mary decided to be quieter than she had ever been before.
Suddenly, the world unfolded around Mary as her senses were filled with more beautiful things.
A leaf hanging from a fine thread of spider silk.
The smell of freshly cut grass.
The tickle of the breeze ruffling her hair.
Now that Mary was very quiet, her family hardly noticed her at all.
A Quiet Girl, a buoyant celebration of paying attention quietly, will appeal to preschoolers aged three through five and their caregivers.
In A Quiet Girl, protagonist Mary thrives while quietly observing and appreciating the world around her. These experiences are framed as being positive and enjoyable despite her family’s frustration at not being able to hear Mary effectively. When Mary becomes “quieter than she had ever been before”, her family can’t hear her at all – in fact, they can’t even find her. Their panic at her absence during the book’s climax culminates in their relief when they find her where she’s been all along – standing by her favourite tree, singing while watching the birds. This relief leads to the book’s conclusion which showcases their newfound acceptance of Mary. They’re finally able to appreciate her approach to life: “they sat beside her and listened for all of the small wonderful things that lay hidden in the world.”
The illustrations Carnavas provides to accompany his message-driven tale are cutesy cartoons rendered in his now-familiar bubbly style. These images certainly do reinforce the celebratory spirit of the book, which is a tribute not only to childhood innocence and whimsy, but also to tranquility. However, they seem to contradict his more profound message about mindfulness which is positioned as key through the resource page following the narrative, “Mindfulness: Feeling Quiet Inside”. The illustrations are many things, including adorable, energetic and fun, but quiet they are not.
This minor discrepancy seems unlikely to bother most readers, however. The intended audience of preschoolers and their caregivers will delight in the irresistible charm of A Quiet Girl and possibly even enjoy learning more about how to be mindful.
Michelle Superle is an Associate Professor at the University of the Fraser Valley, where she teaches children’s literature and creative writing courses. She has served twice as a judge for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and is the author of Black Dog, Dream Dog and Contemporary, English-language Indian Children’s Literature (Routledge, 2011).