STARRED REVIEW
July 2017

A beginner’s guide to mindfulness

illustrated by Antoinette Portis

In Now, Antoinette Portis returns to themes similar to the ones in her evocative Wait (2015). This new story manages to be even more streamlined and thought-provoking, encouraging readers to slow down and enjoy the moment, a suggestion that is nearly subversive in this era of distracted multitasking.

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In Now, Antoinette Portis returns to themes similar to the ones in her evocative Wait (2015). This new story manages to be even more streamlined and thought-provoking, encouraging readers to slow down and enjoy the moment, a suggestion that is nearly subversive in this era of distracted multitasking.

In a series of spreads with simple sentences rendered in large black type, a young girl expresses her appreciation for moments in her day: “This is my favorite breeze,” the book opens, as the girl runs through grasses. Her favorite cloud is such because “it’s the one I am watching.” The song she sings is her favorite because “it’s the one I am singing.” In essence, the girl is living deeply in the moment, as children are wont to do. Only once does the author switch to past tense; the rest of the book exists in the immediate and engaging present.

Visually, Portis tells the story with great economy, just as she did in Wait. She uses thick, black lines (rendered via ink, brush and bamboo stick and colored digitally) on uncluttered spreads to tell the tale, providing breathing room that’s fitting for a story about appreciating the moment at hand.

The book’s ending ushers in an adult, assumed to be a parent, and smartly, subtly invites readers to appreciate their own moment of now, as we see the adult reading to the girl. This “now” is the girl’s favorite because she’s sharing it with this adult. Can the reader do the same? Only if they’ve been paying attention to Portis’ wise sentiment and eloquent story.

 

Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.

This article was originally published in the July 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Now

Now

illustrated by Antoinette Portis
Roaring Brook
ISBN 9781626721371

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