Two Picture Books for All Those “Adults”

The Wall in the Middle of the Book

Jon Agee and Tommie dePaola  probably were not thinking about politicians or government shut downs when they wrote these picture books for children, but maybe they were trying to ingrain some thoughtfulness into children at a young age – hoping it would stick with them into adulthood.

1df8b181803ff459c707c43af70be49d-w204@1xAgee’s The Wall in the Middle of the Book is supposed to protect one side of the book from the other.  The key words are “supposed to.”  A brick wall runs down the spine in the center of book, and the action takes place on both sides. As the “safe” side slowly disintegrates and floods, the knight is forced over to the other side, where he thinks the monsters will eat him.  Surprise – no one eats him and he makes new friends, What a waste of five billion dollars to build the wall. Preconceived notions about things and people, over a boundary or otherwise, are often distinctly wrong.

Unknown  Quiet

Tommie dePaola’s Quiet has a clear message for all adults tired of listening to the news or rushing around trying to perfect the holiday celebrations for all –   “To be quiet and still is a special thing.”  The little girl says, “I can think when I am quiet.”  The little boy says, “I can see when I am still.”

For all those who know the beauty of quiet – pass it on to others.

Could You Please Keep It Down?

What’s worse – the steady beat of the bass from someone else’s radio, or the undercurrent of mumbling from someone’s TV news show?

Living in close quarters is best left to communes and dormitories, but, after years of living in an unattached house surrounded by grass and trees  – where knowing neighbors was often optional –  the move to a great ocean view promised to make up for the lack of space, privacy, and quiet of condo living.  Sometimes, it’s enough to fantasize that the ocean is my great front lawn – and confirm that minimalism is good for the carbon footprint.

But the sound of the waves crashing is not always loud enough to drown out the grad student/surfer with all-night parties or the high-pitched screamer who does cannonballs off the seawall…

My next-door neighbor, a retired architect, takes his book into the adjacent park during the worst hours.  I’ve discovered sound-proof ear plugs, my iPod with mostly Mozart turned up, and riveting stories that distract from everything around me.

Right now I’m reading George Prochnik’s In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise.  Did you know the word “noise” is derived from “nausea”?  In the third chapter, “Why We Are Noisy,” he clarifies why those high-pitched screamers are always girls:

“…females make a racket to indicate their choice of partner…”

Noise is not healthy, and Prochnik cites studies that prove the hazards in his chapter, “This is War!”  He suggests that soundproofing and noise reduction regulations may be futile: “Noise is getting worse, even though the policy gets better.”

He suggests finding a quiet spot – “…a road where no one drives, a bench where no one sits…{find out where} the culture is pulling…{then} turn around and walk the other way…”   I can do that.

Related Article:

Trying to Dial Down the Volume

Too Many Distractions

How many times a day do you check your email?  facebook? twitter?  Is “quiet time” a term you equate with children being punished?  When was the last time you just stopped to listen?

Health gurus urge calm and peace – that’s their job, but when silence becomes the topic for mainstream journalists who are usually the most verbose – must be too much noise in the air.

New York Times journalist Bob Herbert admonishes us to “Tweet Less, Kiss More”

and Nancy Arcayna in the Honolulu Star/Advertiser tells us “empty moments can purify the soul”

Enough saidtime to be quiet for awhile…