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When No One is Watching

( 1 )


When no one is watching, it's easy to be brave -- to dance and sing, growl and cheer. But when everyone's watching, this book's shy young narrator finds it far easier to hide. With her best friend, Loretta, though, she doesn't feel shy, embarrassed, awkward, or odd -- not one bit. Together they're like two peas in a pod, whether anyone's watching or not.

Any readers who have felt shy will certainly recognize themselves within the pages of this adorable book, which will encourage...

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When no one is watching, it's easy to be brave -- to dance and sing, growl and cheer. But when everyone's watching, this book's shy young narrator finds it far easier to hide. With her best friend, Loretta, though, she doesn't feel shy, embarrassed, awkward, or odd -- not one bit. Together they're like two peas in a pod, whether anyone's watching or not.

Any readers who have felt shy will certainly recognize themselves within the pages of this adorable book, which will encourage even the most timid of audiences with its celebration of the value of a good friend.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When the narrator of this poem-story is alone, “I cheer for myself as I race near the hoop/ I soar and I score with a dunk and a whoop!/ When no one is watching, I cheer.” But when people are around—even her family—she prefers to retreat to supporting roles (“I pass the b-ball/ to my classmate Tamar./ Tamar makes the basket—/ she’s always the star”) and hiding places (“I scrunch myself down/ and pretend I’m not there”). Spinelli (Cold Snap) doesn’t craft her poem as an apology—in fact, her stylish, cute heroine (Johnson portrays her with a riot of frizzy hair and wildly unruly shoelaces) has an equally shy and appealing best friend, and their obvious deep connection and comfort in their respective shy skins should be reassuring to anyone on a similar wavelength. The paper-bag palette and mottled texture of Johnson’s (Snow Sounds) mixed-media illustrations are somewhat chilly, but he effectively employs a multiple exposure technique to give the sense that his ostensibly retiring heroine has an exuberant inner life. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
"I dance. I leap and I spin..." In simple verses, a young girl demonstrates how she whirls and twirls when she is alone. But..."When everyone's watching, I hide." Alone she is brave; otherwise she leans against the wall. Alone she cheers her basketball moves; she growls and grumps; she sings as she swings, but not when others are around. With her equally shy friend Loretta, however, she can go to the zoo and they can have fun interacting with the animals. Together they are no longer shy. "Together we don't care who's watching at all." Instead of detailed backgrounds, the double page illustrations are set against gently textured pastel backdrops, helping to unify the various activities. Ink drawings are water colored and digitally manipulated to produce crisp, naturalistic characters and objects. The sprightly behavior represents honest childhood emotions. Spaghetti-like shoelaces enhance the energy of the events; a cat joins in as well. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—The nameless protagonist in this picture book is a wallflower around other people, but alone, she blossoms with exuberant play and a vivid imagination. Quirky and endearing with her wild mop of black curls, pink high-tops, and struggle with shyness, she will appeal to readers who know what's budding inside them, but who aren't quite ready to open up. The illustrations alternately show the little girl's introverted behavior and her lone, free-spirited singing, dancing, stomping, and pretend-wrestling with wild animals. Spinelli's narrative is simple, lyrical, and written from the first-person perspective, giving the sense that the child is sharing her secrets with a trusted friend. She is accompanied throughout by a charming cat whose actions and expressions mirror her own-perfect, given the feline tendency to be reserved between bursts of energy. In the end, readers are introduced to the girl's shy friend, Loretta. They buoy one another when they are out and about, and they appreciate sharing quiet time, too. Johnson's illustrations are dynamic, done in a palette of earthy colors and filling the pages with likable faces and activity. This is a wonderful book for reassuring a quiet kiddo that she is special, and that the world will be happy to know her, too, when she is ready to introduce herself.—Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, AR
Kirkus Reviews
What do you do when no one is watching? A girl might be shy, but it doesn't mean she can't be brave and adventurous when no one can see her! This appealing heroine tries to disappear when other people are around, but when she is alone or with her best friend, she can do almost anything. Rhymed text describes both her attempts to avoid detection ("I hide like the cat alongside the big chair. / I scrunch myself down and pretend I'm not there") and her plucky, bold side ("I'm brave as a bear in a cave in the dark. / I wrestle gorilla. / I tickle white shark"). Digitally manipulated ink-and-watercolor pictures portray the girl doing her best to remain out of sight in company and shining when she is alone and at her effervescent best. Shyness is presented in a nonjudgmental way here, as a personality characteristic that doesn't have to be limiting. Although the pictures are sparkling and energetic, it is difficult to ignore the girl's impossibly long, flowing shoelaces; while an appealing stylistic touch, children accustomed to Velcro will find them distracting, and their parents will find them unsafe. This is a small detail however, and shy children will feel accepted and invigorated by the girl's ways of accepting and mitigating her reserve. A lovely way to promote acceptance of introverts by themselves and others. (Picture book. 3-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802853035
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 2/7/2013
  • Pages: 26
  • Sales rank: 591,066
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD440L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Eileen Spinelli
Eileen Spinelli is the author of over thirty-five picture books and novels, including Jonah's Whale, Now It Is Summer, Do You Have a Cat?, and Do You Have a Dog? (all Eerdmans). Her book Now It Is Winter (Eerdmans) was named a Bank Street College Best Children's Book. Eileen lives in Pennsylvania. Visit her website at

David Johnson is an accomplished editorial artist whose works have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, and The Atlantic Monthly. He has illustrated several children's books, including Call Me Marianne (Eerdmans), Snow Sounds (Houghton Mifflin), and Abraham Lincoln (Scholastic). David lives in Connecticut.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 2, 2013

    A girl talks about her being shy around others and how she is he

    A girl talks about her being shy around others and how she is herself when no one is there. But when people are there, she hides, keeps to herself and doesn’t want anyone to notice her. When she is alone, she is brave and she dances and she has a loud voice. The girl also tells us that with her friend (who is also shy) she feels more brave and less shy. Together the friends “don’t care who’s watching at all.”

    Why I liked this book – This is a great book about shyness by Eileen Spinelli, an amazing poet and author! The writing is musical and flows well. The message about being shy when people are watching is one a lot of kids (and I am thinking adults too) will like reading about. I also like the message about friendship and finding a person that can help you feel not so shy. I especially liked the rhyming and the rhythm of the story! I really like the illustrations, and the backgrounds chosen for each page. The artwork went well with the story. I think kids 4+ would absolutely LOVE this book like I did!
    **NOTE I reviewed a copy of this book my sister got as a gift :D

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