Monday 3 June 2019

A Quiet Girl

A Quiet Girl written & illustrated by Peter Carnavas HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9780702260025

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Mary is a quiet child whose family is so noisy and occupied with mundane tasks that she is frequently overlooked. The small girl whispers quiet words, steps quietly and has quiet thoughts. At the same time, she is involved with the world around her, listening to the sounds of birds and enjoying the garden. She hears things nobody else does, buzzing and sighing and creaking, while her family use motorised tools and tell her to use a ‘nice, loud voice’.

Eventually Mary feels as though she is invisible. It is only when a bird lands on a windowsill that her family realises she is missing. When they eventually find her, she becomes the catalyst for them to finally stop their business and enjoy the sounds and sights of nature which so captivate their youngest member.

Carnavas has written many picture books including his most recent, The Elephant, which was short-listed for the CBCA Book of the Year Awards. A Quiet Girl was, he says, his tribute to the introverts, who, it must be said, are rarely represented in children’s literature. This book, like The Elephant, is delicate and thought-provoking, a quiet voice in a noisy world.

The illustrations are in keeping with the theme of the book which is that one needs to be quiet and to look carefully at nature in order to be attuned to it. In its quietness, the book is powerful. It is suitable for all young readers, including the newly independent reader.

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