Listen by Gabi Snyder, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin. Paula Wiseman, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. 9781534461895
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Picture books
What did you like about the book? A little girl with brown skin and black hair ventures out into a noisy streetscape and thinks about the difference between hearing and listening. An omnipotent narrator asks the girl to stop, close her eyes and begin to distinguish between various sounds, using onamonapia such as vroom and brush-rush-hush. The girl walks through a rainy street, following her dad and hearing rain on her umbrella. She also listens to a friend who’s feeling sad and to the whoosh of her own breath as she practices mindfulness. Delicate colored pencil and watercolor illustrations provide concrete examples of the kind of listening and hearing the main character does and an afterward entitled “More About Listening” gives information about hearing and our various responses to sound. I really liked the diversity of the characters in the images. The main character has a White dad and a Black mom with long braids. Her school and neighborhood also include people from a variety of races and age groups; I especially loved the jaunty Black librarian sporting a bright red bow tie. The book exudes a cosy and thoughtful familiarity that will draw readers in and help them connect with the narration. The bright orange text indicating sounds cries out for audience participation.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? This would be a good read aloud for classes from kindergarten to Grade 2 learning about the senses or working on becoming better listeners. I can easily imagine this becoming a school staple in September for establishing behavior norms.
Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: August 30, 2021