Meditation meets noticing in this contemplative picture book. “Right here,/ right now,/ you are reading this book,” Denos begins. “The book is in your lap,/ or in your hands,/ or in someone else’s.” The attendant illustration shows a recursive image of a person holding a book, placing the reader at once in the moment and in a telescopic frame. Plainspoken text ripples throughout, prompting the reader to consider what lies “under your bum, under your feet” and what is occurring elsewhere (“Rain is forming in the belly of a cloud”; “A friend you haven’t met yet is sitting down to dinner”). And Goodale’s comfortable mixed-media illustrations, both self-referential and communally inclusive, extend the idea that many occurrences make up a moment in the world. A postscript includes an author’s note about meditation: “just another way of noticing, and noticing is a little bit like magic.” A well-considered work about taking in the present moment. Ages 4–7. (Sept.)
★ "Readers will find themselves returning for a thoughtful moment again and again." —Kirkus, STARRED review ★ "Evocative.... robust.... playful.... a kid-centered take on mindfulness that should encourage budding philosophers, scientists, and questioners."—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, STARRED review ★ "Meditation meets noticing in this contemplative picture book....A well-considered work about taking in the present moment."—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review "A unique glimpse of what can be appreciated separate from what we see in front of us, and a topic worthy of a follow-up lesson."—School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—This book opens with the statement, "Right here, right now, you are reading this book." Each following page zooms out to reveal where on Earth the reader might be. Next it explores what is beneath the surface of the Earth—grass, dirt, earthworms, and even fossils—and how the planet is spinning in the middle of space. All the while, events are concurrently happening. For instance, rain is falling in the belly of a cloud, a telephone may be ringing, grass is pushing up through cement, and a friend you have not met yet is sitting down to dinner. An author's note explains that the idea for this text was inspired by meditation practice re-created for a storytime audience here as real-time meditation. As such, the purpose of the text is to enlighten children to notice much unfolding beneath, around, and outside of them, along with events yet to happen in the future someday. Using simple language to emphasize an otherwise complex topic, children are shown how to open their senses wide by noting that there are things going on whether they see them happening or not. Child-friendly examples include muscles growing despite the inability to feel them doing so, and broken bones and cuts inconspicuously healing over time. This is no easy concept for young children to grasp, as reality for most (as the title asserts) is the "here and now." Goodale's soft, gentle illustrations are as subtle as the abstract message, encouraging a focus better suited for more mature children. The subtle, often reflective illustrations reinforce the message. Though some children may overlook the smaller details on the page, or not know what a fossil is, there is a great deal to ponder. VERDICT A unique glimpse of what can be appreciated separate from what we see in front of us, and a topic worthy of a follow-up lesson.—Etta Anton, Yeshiva of Central Queens, NY
Following Windows (2017), Denos and Goodale reteam to offer a guided meditation through reading.
The inviting cover shows a little black child touching the reflection in a stream as creatures fly about and the moon rises behind into a starlit sky. The first spread is white space with two pairs of hands positioned as if holding the book. "Right here, right now, / you are reading this book." The simple text continues to bring awareness to the present moment: the placement of the book, the position of the reader's body, the floor and Earth beneath us, the spinning of the Earth in space. Next, the reader is invited to imagine how "many, many things are happening" while they read this book—rain is forming, a phone somewhere is ringing, an "idea is blooming." Finally, the text circles back to the reader: "Right here, right now, / YOU are becoming." The ink and watercolor images complement the text beautifully, with close-ups and panoramic views shifting to cozy vignettes, all emphasizing the focus on emotional connection between characters. The illustration accompanying "Unseen work is being done" shows two people, the black child from the cover and an Asian-presenting older figure, embracing in the field. These characters, followed intermittently throughout, are reading their own copy of Here and Now, which allows several opportunities for playfulness in the pictures, which tell their own story.
Readers will find themselves returning for a thoughtful moment again and again. (author's note) (Picture book. 3-12)