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QUIET AS MUD by Jane Yolen


by Jane Yolen ; illustrated by Nicole Wong

Pub Date: April 16th, 2024
ISBN: 9781433841538
Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

“I’m quiet as mud when I’m alone.”

Inspired by a quote from author Margaret Wise Brown, Yolen offers a gently paced ode to the silent and soft-spoken. Appropriately, only one or two lines occupy each page, letting Wong’s pastoral illustrations take the lead. An unnamed young narrator floats through the sky, frolics across fields and forests, and goes on family picnics while sharing various similes, many rooted in nature. “I’m quiet as the stars” and “silent as a sandwich / when it sits uneaten on a plate,” says the little one. “I just like hearing the world spin by.” Though surrounded by a supportive family, the narrator is “quiet as mud when I’m alone.” Muddy footprints feature throughout, with the whole family looking (happily) grubby by the end, together in the garden behind a yellow house. Whatever reasons readers may have to be quiet, they’ll find Yolen’s words reassuring. Being quiet lets the protagonist pay attention to things others might miss, such as “the songs that the rocks all sing.” The child is also “happy to hear my heart beat / with its own steady thud-thud-thud.” Yolen has crafted an idyllic safe space for daydreamers, shrinking violets, and selectively mute little ones and a sweetly surreal alternative point of view for everyone else. The protagonist is light-skinned, as are most family members.

Mild-mannered mindfulness that leads by example.

(Picture book. 2-7)