cover image The Quiet Place

The Quiet Place

Sarah Stewart, illus. by David Small. FSG/Ferguson, $16.99 (44p) ISBN 978-0-374-32565-7

This gentle book from the husband-and-wife team behind the Caldecott Honor book The Gardener is aptly titled: Small’s fluid paintings do a splendid job of silent storytelling, just as Stewart’s taut narrative is gracefully subdued. The text consists of 12 letters a girl named Isabel sends to her Auntie Lupita in Mexico after Isabel and her family immigrate to the U.S in 1957. Isabel writes of playing in the snow, learning English, and transforming a refrigerator box into “a quiet place for me and my books.” After the box is ruined in a rainstorm, Isabel, while helping her mother cater children’s birthday parties, collects boxes from gifts and uses them to build an elaborate sanctuary and play space, not seen in its full grandeur until a double-gatefold spread at Isabel’s own birthday celebration. Evidence of Isabel’s family’s growing stability (the ability to purchase a refrigerator, Isabel’s older brother taking college courses) is scattered throughout. Through Isabel, Stewart and Small offer a stirring, backyard-size metaphor for the determination and drive for self-betterment that characterize the immigrant experience. Ages 5–10. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Sept.)