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The Quiet Placeby Sarah Stewart and David Small
I get choked up every time I read The Quiet Place by Sarah Stewart. David Small's drawings are gorgeous, and they perfectly capture the feelings of loneliness and insecurity young Isabel experiences after moving to the United States from Mexico. The story is cleverly told through letters Isabel sends to her aunt back home — which give the reader space to imagine all the details. Isabel uses her creativity and inner strength to find her way in this new and overwhelming home. It's especially inspiring for shy, creative types!
Synopses & Reviews
When Isabel and her family move to the United States, Isabel misses all the things she left behind in Mexico, especially her aunt Lupita and hearing people speak Spanish. But she also experiences some wonderful new things — her first snow storm and a teacher who does not speak Spanish but has a big smile. Even better, Papa and her brother Chavo help her turn a big box into her own quiet place, where she keeps her books and toys and writes letters to Aunt Lupita. As she decorates and adds more and more on to her quiet place, it is here that Isabel feels the most at home in her new country while she learns to adjust to the changes in her life.
Set in the 1950s and told through Isabel's letters to her aunt, Sarah Stewart and Caldecott Medalist David Small have created a charming and unforgettable young heroine who will win the hearts of readers in this story of immigration and assimilation.
"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.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"A moving, memorable portrayal of one child's immigrant experience." Booklist, starred review
"Articulating our experience can provide important perspective as we confront new challenges. The anxiety that comes of being uprooted is tenderly explored in The Quiet Place, an immigrant tale by Sarah Stewart and the illustrator David Small, award-winning collaborators." The New York Times Book Review
"A warm, gentle portrait of an immigrants isolation and the ways that creativity and a loving family can offer both a safe haven and a bridge." Kirkus, starred review
About the Author
Husband and wife duo Sarah Stewart and David Small have worked together on several picture books, most recently The Friend. Small has also written and/or illustrated other books, including the 2001 Caldecott Medal winner So You Want to Be President? by Judith St. George. Stewart and Small live in a historic home on a bend of the St. Joseph River in Michigan.
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