Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Friday, July 10, 2015

Not Too Fast...Please

There was a time when most families did not own three, four or more cars or trucks.  (Several of my immediate neighbors with two in the household own four vehicles.)  We had one car in my family of four until I was in high school.  If my mom needed it to run errands, she would drive my dad to work in the morning and race around until it was time to pick him up.  Needless to say before my sister and I were in school, the three of us were in pretty good shape from fast walking or running from place to place.

Looking in store windows or browsing in the aisles was not on the agenda.  Although to be fair we did stop at our favorite candy shop for a treat.  I wonder what we missed seeing by dashing from place to place.  Wait (A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, July 14, 2015) written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis examines the beauty to be found in slowing our pace, pausing to enjoy the world through which we pass. 


With the first page turn after the title word, Wait, we see a mom scurrying down a city street with her son holding her hand.  She glances at her watch, clearly on a tight schedule.  Alternating between his wait and her hurry we travel with them to their destination.  

Her focus on where they need to be makes her oblivious to all the simple joys all around them (us) every single day.  It's impossible to resist a friendly kiss from an eager dog.  Road repair crews need a cheerful greeting during their work.

Everyone knows hungry ducks in the park crave bread hand-outs.  See that one there.  Wouldn't that ice cream bar taste good?  Did you see what is in the pet shop window?  I spy something among the flowers in the planter.  

Large drops of rain are starting to fall.  No time to waste now.  Mom is really in a rush.  


 Antoinette Portis has used language to perfection.  Two words, finally a third, and the punctuation drive the rate at which the story unfolds.  When one of the words is used repeatedly in succession the tension builds to the best possible conclusion.  

Rendered in pencil, charcoal and ink with color added digitally the technique and style used by Portis calls to younger readers.  It also draws attention, by way of contrast, to the delicate details she includes in some of her illustrations.  Upon opening the dust jacket (I am working with an F & G.) the boy is watching a mother cat trailing behind her three kittens who are fascinated with a ladybug.  When you first look at the title page, see if you notice anything special.

Her first of thirteen double-page images extends across the gutter into the verso on the left.  When Portis uses single page visuals among these, the flow is flawless.  Her point of view shifts from close-up to more expansive but even in those, for the most part; we see things from the height of a child.  When she zooms in on one particular picture expect gasps.  

One of my favorite illustrations is when it begins to rain.  The boy is standing with extended arms, head tilted back to catch raindrops on his tongue.  His left arm spreads into the right page.  His mom is holding an open rain coat.  Even though we read the word 


she is waiting for him to put his arms in the sleeves.

Antoinette Portis in words and pictures engages readers in the fine art of observation in Wait.  All of us need to look at our world through the same lens used by the little boy.  Readers will come to the realization we need more wait than hurry in our lives. Sometimes all it takes is a rain storm.

To discover more about Antoinette Portis and her work please visit her website by following the link attached to her name.  At the publisher's website you can view eight interior images.  Antoinette Portis is featured at Kidlit 411.  She was recently interviewed at both The Horn Book and Publishers Weekly about this title. Update:  July 26, 2015 Antoinette Portis chats with teacher librarian extraordinaire John Schumacher on his blog, Watch. Connect. Read. Further update:  Antoinette Portis is a guest at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast hosted by reviewer, author and blogger Julie Danielson.


  1. What a great review! I can't WAIT to read this book!

    1. Thank you Victoria! You won't have long to WAIT to read it. You'll really like it.