Review of Now

by Antoinette Portis; illus. by the author
Preschool    Porter/Roaring Brook    32 pp.
7/17    978-1-62672-137-1    $17.99

A natural follow-up to Portis’s Wait (rev. 7/15), about a woman in a rush and the child who reminds her to stop and smell the roses, Now is an affirmation of the present and its many wonders. It opens with a young girl, eyes closed and arms raised toward the sky, declaring, “This is my favorite breeze,” as a refreshing wind washes over her. The book continues with a string of celebratory declarations — “This is my favorite leaf”; “This is my favorite mud” — with Portis’s vibrant colors brightening each page. Her expressive use of ink adds a particular energy to the illustrations: a bold swooping brush stroke becomes a favorite tree branch; undulating waves of blue become a stream of rainwater; and quirky yellow birds are brought to life with a few deft brush strokes. The main character is not celebrating the things themselves, however, but the experience of them: it’s her favorite cloud because it’s “the one I am watching”; it’s her favorite song because it’s “the one I am singing.” The focus is always on being mindful of and appreciating the moment. The story comes to a fitting conclusion as the girl, sitting on her mother’s lap reading together, asserts that “this is my favorite now because it’s the one I’m having with you,” drawing the reader in with the narrative equivalent of a warm embrace. Thoughtful without being preachy and meditative without being boring, Now should prove to be a favorite for today — and well into the future.

From the July/August 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Minh Lê
Minh Lê
Minh Lê is the author of Drawn Together, illustrated by Dan Santat, and Let Me Finish!, illustrated by Isabel Roxas. He blogs about children's literature at Bottom Shelf Books and writes and reviews for a variety of publications, including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and The Horn Book Magazine. He served on the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee.

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