Review: A Quiet Girl
In a world where the screams for attention are often paralysing, loud and unrelenting, Mary dwells in comparative silence. Her thoughts are mostly imperceptible. Her words heard only by the keenest of ears. Her actions measured and calm. This quietness allows Mary to ‘hear things nobody else heard’, soft, seemingly insignificant things easily overlooked in the chaos of everyday living. Mary is, A Quite Girl and this picture book by master storyteller, Peter Carnavas, is as unpretentious as it is attention grabbing.
The only trouble with being so unobtrusive is that inevitably you are completely overlooked. This is what happens to Mary to such an extent that her own family are not able to hear her as she attempts to relay a new and wonderful discovery to them.
Mary tries her hardest to speak up but it is never quite enough to break through the clamorous cacophony of life and despite the benign urgings from her family to ‘use a nice loud voice’, Mary withdraws even more until one day, she disappears altogether.
However, being quietly invisible is not as bad as one might think. From this standpoint, Mary’s world is suddenly suffused with a riot of beautiful things, delicate and infinitesimal, yet so plentiful they fill her with infinite joy and wonder.
It is not until a small grey bird presents itself to Mary’s family that they realise her absence. They call and call for her until their entire neighbourhood echoes with deafening concern but Mary remains unseen. Finally, when they eventually fall silent enough to listen, they hear ‘the most marvellous sound of all.’
A Quiet Girl is everything you’d expect from a carefully crafted Carnavas story; unexpected, subtle, quietly moving. Demure pastels depict Mary’s suburban world and her budding friendship with a small grey peaceful dove. Greens and golds tie readers to her backyard, simple and familiar yet bursting with nature’s whimsies and wonders that only we and Mary can sense and see; treasures that are often overlooked by grownups yet apprized by keen-eyed youngsters. Carnavas’ accomplished use of white space creates focus and an air of quietude that ripples gently along with Mary from start to finish. Character exclamations replace text, providing the background noise that often drowns out Mary. It’s a sensory feast that makes read-aloud or individual reading experiences fun and memorable.
A Quiet Girl is about points of view, perception and applying mindfulness as liberally as possible. It’s an effective shout out to all those souls whose voices rarely rise above the babble of life but have stories to tell just the same. It’s a call to stymie modern day distractions in a bid to ‘stop, listen and take in the magic of nature’; a beautiful fresh new take on the old adage to ‘stop and smell the roses’, or in this case, to listen to the bird’s call.
Sublimely soothing and special, A Quiet Girl suits 3 – 6-year-olds and anyone who needs to find peace and calm.
Title: A Quiet Girl
Author / Illustrator: Peter Carnavas
Publisher: UQP, $24.95
Publication Date: April 2019
For ages: 3 – 6
Type: Picture Book
Buy the Book: UQP, Boomerang Books