This is simply exquisite. In eleven different parts of the world, children savour the moment: on each double spread there is a gorgeous, mixed media scene showing a young boy or girl in an everyday setting relishing the beauty of the surroundings.
A little girl somewhere in India pauses to listen to the song of a bird;
a boy collects pink blossoms as they fall from a tree: ‘ Taking time to listen to / a bird’s song on the breeze. // Taking time to gather up the blossom dancing free.’ (I love Jo’s use of rhyming couplets on consecutive spreads here and throughout the book).
Far away in Alaska a child snuggles in the soft fur of a husky dog; indoors another child feels a soft cat, ‘taking time to feel the beat’ of its ‘rhythmic purr’.
A spider spins its web watched in awe by a little girl in Nepal, while in the Egyptian desert, clutched by a loving adult, a small child contemplates their journey.
The immensity of the evening sky, a passing flock of colourful birds,
the kind, reflecting eyes of a grandparent, soft snowflakes as they float gently down, the imagined sounds of the sea echoing in a shell – all these too are cherished moments for those who take time for awareness of the here and now.
On the final spread all the children come together in a verdant green field to share their wonderings as they play harmoniously with their special keepsakes: ‘Taking time to cherish you, / and also cherish me.’
Both sets of endpapers show details from the illustrations, the front ones annotating a world map marking the children’s homelands – Alaska, Ecuador, the U.K., Norway, Russia, Egypt, Tanzania, India, Nepal, China, and Japan; the back ones depicting just the keepsakes, cleverly creating a matching game for readers to play.
If you have, or work with, young children, I urge you to share Jo’s beautiful book, showing similar slow mindfulness to that demonstrated by her characters in Taking Time.