The Quiet Place

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

The Quiet Place is a Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Book of 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher
“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 immigrant’s isolation and the ways that creativity and a loving family can offer both a safe haven and a bridge.” —Kirkus, starred

 

"A moving, memorable portrayal of one child’s immigrant experience.”—Booklist, starred

 

“Stewart and Small offer a stirring, backyard-size metaphor for the determination and drive for self-betterment that characterize the immigrant experience.” —Publishers Weekly, starred

"It’s such a fascinating place." — BCCB

School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—Set in 1957, this epistolary story is told in 12 letters from a child to her Aunt Lupita. Isabel, her parents, and her older brother emigrate from Mexico to the United States, leaving her aunt behind. From her new home, Isabel writes about her struggle with learning English, starting school, helping her mother bake cakes for children's parties, and building her "quiet place"-a cardboard playhouse where she feels safe. Central to the story, the construction of Isabel's project closely follows her gradual adjustment to her new life. Small gives glimpses at the process throughout the book, starting with very shy Isabel asking for a discarded birthday box and ending with her unveiling her completed project at her birthday party, attended by everyone in the neighborhood. Spread over a double-page foldout, the "quiet place" explodes with color, lavishly decorated with Isabel's art. No longer merely a comfy space, it transforms into a place for connecting with new friends, a symbol for fitting in. Drawn in Small's signature style, the delicate but vibrant illustrations, along with the pithy narrative vignettes, poignantly capture the emotional hardships and triumphs of the immigrant experience. Another gem from this dynamic team.—Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
As in Stewart and Small's previous The Gardener (1997) and The Journey (2001), letters to a loved one become the vehicle for a girl to explore what she sees, feels and comes to understand upon leaving home for the first time. In this title, a family of four is moving from Mexico to America in 1957. Their poignant, pre-dawn departure starts on the endpapers. Small's imaginative use of color and masterful variation of line combine to focus attention on Isabel's expressive face while developing other characters and creating a convincing period with Formica countertops and big-finned cars. Silent spreads allow readers time to ponder her predicament and imagine their own reactions. As the epistles to Auntie Lupita chronicle Isabel's encounter with snow, feelings about her new teacher and time spent at the children's parties her mother caters, they also indirectly portray a family sensitive to a child's well-being. When Isabel requests the big boxes left over from the parties, her family supports her special sanctuary as needed; decorated with paint, origami and cardboard rainspouts reminiscent of the clay gutters back home, her quiet place turns into a panorama of festivities on her birthday, when a double gatefold reveals many new friends. A warm, gentle portrait of an immigrant's isolation and the ways that creativity and a loving family can offer both a safe haven and a bridge. (Picture book. 4-8)
The New York Times Book Review
Isabel's resilience and connection through the written word make this a sweetly uplifting story.
—Sara London
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374325657
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 9/18/2012
  • Pages: 44
  • Sales rank: 197,633
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet 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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