Name of Book: The Quiet Book
Author: Deborah Underwood
Illustrator: Renata Liwska
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Audience: Ages 3 and up; may work well as part of an intergenerational conversation.
Summary: This picture book explores the many kinds of “quiet” that we experience throughout our lives. Young animals are seen in a variety of both positive and negative situations that might cause one to be quiet or contemplative – situations that reflect fear, awe, sorrow, hope, and more. From “first one awake quiet” to “sound asleep quiet,” the animals display a wide range of emotions that accompany the ups and downs of daily life.
Literary elements at work in the story: This picture book incorporates sparse but rich text with gentle illustrations. While there is no structured plot, this story enlivens the reader’s imagination as it suggests all sorts of stories one might be able to tell about the events of any given day. The animal characters are both diverse and nameless; however, the illustrations and text work together to suggest a depth of character that might surprise the reader.
Perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability: The author makes use of a diverse set of animals, with many species and colors represented. The only indication of gender throughout the book is in the depiction of one mother and one aunt. Otherwise, the reader will have a difficult time making any distinctions about gender, thus allowing all readers to find themselves within the text at many points.
Theological Conversation Partners: Psalm 23
Faith Talk Questions/Activities:
- Purchase an additional copy of the book. (Ideally, purchase two copies so that both sides of each page may be utilized in this activity.) Cut out the pages so that they can be distributed to several small groups. Provide each group with several pages.
- Ask students to identify the feelings of the animals in each kind of quietness that is shown in their group’s pictures.
- Make a simple but large wall chart with “Peace – Sin – Awe – Sorrow – Fear – Hope” across the top. If you are working solely with children, briefly review/explain each term. For a multi-generational group, ask the groups to spend time talking about each term.
- Ask each group to tack their book pages into the chart column that seems most appropriate for the depicted scene.
- Write Psalm 23, verse by verse, on single sheets of paper. Use a large font. Distribute scripture slips to small groups. Ask each group to discuss the verse(s) they hold and to determine which part of the chart the scripture addresses.
- Ask a member of the class to read Psalm 23 slowly. Hold up the pages from The Quiet Book that the groups have paired with each verse. (Pictures may or may not match up for every verse read.)
- Discuss in small groups the many ways that we each feel fear, peace, sin, awe, sorrow, and hope in our own lives, and how God comforts us, celebrates with us, and gives us hope. Children might wish to share experiences similar to those depicted in The Quiet Book.