Here and Now

HMH. Sept. 2019. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781328465641.
K-Gr 3–This book opens with the statement, “Right here, right now, you are reading this book.” Each following page zooms out to reveal where on Earth the reader might be. Next it explores what is beneath the surface of the Earth—grass, dirt, earthworms, and even fossils—and how the planet is spinning in the middle of space. All the while, events are concurrently happening. For instance, rain is falling in the belly of a cloud, a telephone may be ringing, grass is pushing up through cement, and a friend you have not met yet is sitting down to dinner. An author’s note explains that the idea for this text was inspired by meditation practice re-created for a storytime audience here as real-time meditation. As such, the purpose of the text is to enlighten children to notice much unfolding beneath, around, and outside of them, along with events yet to happen in the future someday. Using simple language to emphasize an otherwise complex topic, children are shown how to open their senses wide by noting that there are things going on whether they see them happening or not. Child-friendly examples include muscles growing despite the inability to feel them doing so, and broken bones and cuts inconspicuously healing over time. This is no easy concept for young children to grasp, as reality for most (as the title asserts) is the “here and now.” Goodale’s soft, gentle illustrations are as subtle as the abstract message, encouraging a focus better suited for more mature children. The subtle, often reflective illustrations reinforce the message. Though some children may overlook the smaller details on the page, or not know what a fossil is, there is a great deal to ponder.
VERDICT A unique glimpse of what can be appreciated separate from what we see in front of us, and a topic worthy of a follow-up lesson.

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