Into a world where it often seems nobody is listening comes a poignant story that celebrates the power of silence.
“Why are you so quiet?” Her teacher implores it, her classmates shout it, even her mom wonders it. Everyone, it seems, is concerned for Myra Louise. So, in search of an answer to the tiresome question nobody will stop asking, she invents a listening machine. If the raindrops, or the crickets, or the dryers at the laundromat can tell her why they’re so quiet, maybe Myra Louise can finally make everybody understand. But the more she listens, the less interested she becomes in finding any answer at all. Because Myra Louise comes to realize that all she really needs is someone else to listen alongside her.
Out September 2020
I received this book in exchange for my honest review.
Being a Naturalist, my dad was big on teaching us kids to appreciate nature and take in our surroundings noting things others may not. As we grew up, we were not the rowdiest group of kids because of his teachings. We learned to respect the things around us and learn from what our senses told us.
This book is almost as though it had been written by him. The lessons of paying attention and learning from our surroundings is highly stressed within its pages. As a very young child I was always on the go, loud and laughing and never really paying attention to anything except whatever was happening in that moment, just like most kids my age. When dad showed me another world, one of hidden surprises, I changed into a child just like Myra. It wasn’t really about what I was being shown or what I was listening to, it was sharing the time with my dad, special time.
And as like Myra, people who didn’t “get it” thought it strange until I shared what my dad had taught me with them. Observing a hawk in a tree by counting how many I saw during a road trip, taught me awareness of a creature on this planet that I basically called another “bird.” Through dad’s teachings, I learned more about red-tailed hawks in our area. He pointed out their high nests, talked about the relationship between hawks and owls and what hawks liked to eat.
Which brought me to fields where we walked all the while dad pointed out round balls hanging suspended between tall grass. They were field mice nests. He showed holes in the grass that seemed to be attached to little pathways which he told me were travel tunnels used by mice and moles. He said if I listened carefully and didn’t move, I could almost hear them moving through the grass. I remember closing my eyes and staying really still, listening. He asked me what I heard. I listed off all the sounds: the whisper of the wind, the buzzing of nearby honey bees, water moving in a nearby stream… and something else. My eyes opened wide and he smiled at me. He taught me that mice were not just mice, but an important part of the eco-system’s food chain and what would happen if all the mice in the world were gone to all the other creatures that relied on them for food.
Myra reminds me so much of me hungrily wanting to know more. Learning from what she heard to create and share her new knowledge with all the others who didn’t “get it” so that they would. In a world today of rushing here and rushing there, it’s nice to see a book that teaches kids to slow down, to appreciate something more than technology. This world is an amazing place and learning about it can be quite the treasure.
Why was learning about mice a big deal as I’m sure some are wondering. Well, my new children’s series is yup, you guessed it, about mice.
I love the gorgeous illustrations that accompany the story and the messages the author shared.
I gave this book: