Today’s hectic way of life might overwhelm children who need a slower pace.
Like many young children, protagonist Henry, a little black boy, is fascinated by the world around him. He enjoys taking his time on his way to school or anywhere else, but his family operates on a tight daily schedule, one with little time for reverie. In contrast to Henry, his best friend, Simon, a little Asian boy, has the opposite problem: he does everything too quickly. When they play, “they get a lot done”—but then Henry has to recover by lying still in the dark. Luckily, Grandma understands Henry and shows him a way to manage time efficiently. And when Henry’s birthday approaches, Simon decides on the best present ever, but only if Grandma will help him pull it off. Simon’s gift gives the family exactly what they did not know they needed. Author Lanthier’s quiet text sets a patient tone for this familiar situation that frustrates many young families. Malenfant’s subtle color scheme and watercolor/pastel mixed media complement the text, varying vignettes and quiet double-page spreads to visually evoke the different paces of Henry’s world. The repetition of clock motifs, fanciful flora and fauna, and changes in scale add a touch of magical realism that furthers the book’s emotional themes.
This empathetic tale ends with a question all would do well to contemplate: “Can we do this again tomorrow?” (Picture book. 4-7)