cover image Listen


Gabi Snyder, illus. by Stephanie Graegin. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5344-6189-5

In this book about auditory stimulus, Snyder (Two Dogs on a Trike) shows the steps behind taking cacophony apart, noise by noise. When a child with brown skin, dot eyes, and pigtail puffs steps out of a doorway and onto a city street, they’re assailed by a wall of sound: a car says “BEEP!” while motor-scooters “VROOM!” and a moving van booms. “Listen,” says the narrator. “Can you hear each sound?” The child pauses and closes their eyes, picturing the car, the scooter, and the other noise sources in vignettes, each one now distinct. At school, listening continues: playground sounds, storytime sounds, “words of joy... and words that can sting.” A classmate’s feelings are hurt: “Can you hear what she’s feeling, too? A sob, a sigh, or even silence.” Dusk falls, and Graegin (Fern and Otto) portrays city streets in a blue twilight that’s studded with glowing lamps: “Listen... to nighttime hush and whispers.” Back matter contains more about the sense of hearing (“The key difference between hearing and listening is attention”), including bottom-up, top-down, and startle responses. Snyder offers an introduction to mental focus, a skill whose enhancement may serve readers struggling to filter through a din. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Natalie Lakosil, Bradford Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (June) [/em]